[Author's note: Every sports website on earth dedicated to covering just one league publishes a weekly power ranking, and we here at Puck Daddy have finally decided to do the same. However, the problem with power rankings in general is that they are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]
7. The New Hockey Hall of Famers
This was supposed to be a glorious day in the lives of some of the greatest players and personalities the sport has ever seen, and yet because Chris Chelios was a Red Wings, everyone had to put up with Kid Rock all day.
Poor Scott Niedermayer, only one Norris trophy in his career, finally getting some recognition for being like the fifth-best defenseman of all time, and he has to share the day with a guy who wrote a theme song for the Undertaker's unfortunate turn as a biker. Letting that joker go to the induction ceremony is badwitdabad.
Poor Brendan Shanahan, who seems to like Chelios as much as any reasonable person should like Kid Rock's song where he sampled the riff from "Sweet Home Alabama" (the worst Skynyrd song). At least he has the common decency to have been a Red Wing who didn't seem to associate very much with the Devil Without A Cause.
Poor Fred Shero, inducted after all these years of snubbery only to have someone who dresses like this, unironically, there to get cigar ashes and stripper glitter his seat.
Poor Geraldine Heaney, who we can hope was not approached in any way by the Kid (how long has he gone without a replacement for Joe C?), and will be able to go about her life happy in her ignorance.
Congrats to all who were inducted, except Chris Chelios. Because, you know, yuck. I'm not saying that being friends with Kid Rock should necessarily disqualify you from being put into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but yes it should.
6. Steven Stamkos' Tibia
You hate hate hate to see anyone go down with an injury like that, one that could potentially threaten his career. Apparently, too, you especially hate it if it's someone like Steven Stamkos, who's the second-best player in the world and, unlike Sidney Crosby, had not even technically reached his scoring prime yet.
He was on pace for 72 goals (14 in 17 games), and unlike co-leader Alex Steen, he's very likely to keep that run going at something resembling its current pace. It's weird, though, how little it was talked about as being this incredible thing. It's hilarious that Stamkos has to threaten the ol' 50-in-50 pace to even raise eyebrows at this point. Ho hum, just a league-leading 23 points, tied with Sid Crosby. Whatever dude. You have to think it's along the same lines as no one really noticing that Tampa still holds the best record in the Eastern Conference (though that would only tie them for sixth out West as of this writing).
Tough go of things, isn't it? The only reason anyone's really going to pay attention to the Bolts now is to see exactly how they fall apart without someone who has scored fully a quarter of their goals this season.
The good news is that all the hand-wringing about Canada's medal chances without the second-best player in the world is ill-founded. They weren't going to medal with him anyway.
5. The Predators
Don't look now but the Preds, who once seemed like they could be a half-decent team in the Western Conference, are unfortunately falling apart at the seams. Yeah, they're in the middle of an absurdly long road trip, but the two most recent results prior to last night were 5-0 shutouts against Winnipeg and New Jersey. After last night's date with the Islanders, their next opponents are Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, the Rangers and Phoenix. That's a make-or-break stretch, and that's no fun at all.
Elliotte Friedman said in 30 Thoughts this week that things got so bad the team kicked the tires on Ilya Bryzgalov, but as with the Oilers, this seems like something that goes a lot deeper than the Preds' admittedly tenuous goaltending situation.
Friedman also told the Fan 960 in Calgary yesterday morning that — get this — it looks like the threshold to simply make the playoffs in the Western Conference is going to be at least 100 points. The Preds better pick it up soon, because their current 87-point pace was never going to cut the mustard.
4. Matt Moulson
Can you imagine being a forward so bad that you get benched for lack of production by the Sabres? Yeah that trade value is through the roof these days. Maybe he does want to stay in Buffalo.
Statistically, if you're a Puck Daddy reader you're primarily, or perhaps only an NHL fan, and therefore do not pay attention to college hockey until you absolutely have to. I am telling you right now and today and this second that there's a kid playing for Boston College to whom you should be giving your very utmost attention.
Johnny Gaudreau isn't much to look at on the ice. He's listed at 5-foot-7 and 150, but the lack of size seems to have no effect. I've seen him play in each of the last two weekends and he has been uniformly magnificent. In his last four games, he has six goals and four assists. Apart from a game in which he was held off the scoresheet before this run, he started the season 3-5-8 in four games. For the math majors out there, that's 9-9-18 in nine games, and things are only likely to get worse for opposing defenses.
Frankly, the fact that he only has 18 points to start the season is a bit of a disappointment, because he had three in the first 12 minutes or so against Army on Sunday, and then didn't get used very much after that. He still tacked on a late assist.
Gaudreau is the best NCAA hockey player right now despite the fact that he is only a junior. The guy with the next-highest point total on the team is fellow Calgary prospect Billy Arnold, who has 105 points in 128 career games. That's a very good total in the ultra-conservative world of college hockey. Gaudreau is up to 113 in 88.
And it's not the production, either. It's how he does it. The most common reaction to the highlight-reel goals he both scores and sets up on the regular are disbelieving head shakes. When you watch him, you honestly can't believe what you saw. Every week, there's another quote from a teammate about how he does [insert thing all high-level hockey players do here] better than anyone these kids have ever played with. His hands are top-flight. His vision is better.
Watch this video at 50 seconds to see him make a ludicrous assist, including the shocked “Oh my lord, what a play. I don't... I don't...” from his arch-rvial's horribly homerish color guy. It's just not even fair.
In fact, here's a link that will allow you to watch him lay waste to all of his opponents in the last month.
If you have the chance to get out to a Boston College game this season, or even watch one on TV, I encourage you as deeply as I can to do it.
“People run with these stats like they’re something we should pay attention to and make decisions on, and as of right now, very few of them are worth anything to us.”
That was a thing Dave Nonis said when asked to speak on a panel about the use of advanced stats in sports on Monday. Which was a hell of an odd thing.
Obviously a lot is made about the Leafs' staunch refusal to accept that stats like corsi and fenwick have any relevance to what they're trying to do as a hockey club. The Leafs are 38-23-5 in the regular season since Nonis took over, and pushed the Bruins to the brink of elimination in the first round last year, so to this point he has been given no reason whatsoever to put any credence behind “the corsis” because hockey inexplicably hasn't given him a reason to do so.
I'm not sure how useful his participation could have been. “What do you think of 'advanced' analytics?” is not a question that should be met by a panelist with questions of relevance.
Not to say that you can't disagree about their value, but to say they have none, when they've been proven time and again to be at least in some ways predictive of future performance, is of course absurd. It's like asking someone who doesn't put food in a refrigerator to talk on a panel about the emerging ways to keep your milk from turning.
1. From Russia (To Edmonton) With Love
The saga of young and (troubled?) Edmonton Oilers first-overall pick Nail Yakupov has become something of a bugaboo this season. With only four points from 17 games, and some all-around poor play, no one can be happy.
He's been both benched and sheltered from tough competition, and neither path to solving the problem seems to have worked. Despite this, the Oilers said late last week that they had no intention at all of getting rid of him, or cutting his ice time, or anything like that. Young players struggle, especially early on in their second seasons.
This has done nothing to dissuade Igor Larionov, his agent, from swearing he'll go to Edmonton himself to get this situation sorted out. He doesn't like how Yakupov is being used, you see.
Yakupov is in the top right of that chart, way away from anybody on the team in terms of chances to start the play in the attacking zone. Now granted, that's some pretty stiff competition he's going up against, but that's how it goes. The team couldn't do a whole lot more than it already is to make sure he starts filling the net. Maybe move to the Eastern Conference?
This has officially become “a whole thing” and I don't think that's necessarily fair to Yakupov to say this is his doing, which is what the Edmonton media spent most of yesterday doing. If anything, according to Craig MacTavish, this is all Craig Custance's fault.
Lots of blame to go around in Edmonton, and no one willing to accept it.
(Not ranked this week: All my jokes about the worst players in the league having more goals than Claude Giroux, Devan Dubnyk getting a fair shake, whatever this garbage is, bullying in the NFL giving hockey another reason to get up on its high horse about how it's so much better than all the other sports, hockey's massive inferiority complex, Nikita Zadorov maybe but also maybe not, Simmonds-to-Edmonton, GM meetings, the World Cup of Hockey, and shootouts (thank god).)