[Author's note: Power rankings 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. Trying to sign Thomas Vanek
The New York Islanders traded Matt Moulson for Thomas Vanek so long ago that it feels like the latter has always been an Islander. Given that the Isles have been pretty much awful the entire time he's been there (18-24-3), it probably feels that way to him as well. He does, however, have 38 points in 41 games with the team, which is helpful.
And so it should come as no surprise to anyone in the NHL that Vanek has turned down the Islanders' offer of about $7 million a season for seven years, and will instead probably get shipped out again around the deadline to just about anywhere like say oh, I don't know, maybe Minnesota just for instance. But the reason for his turning down the deal is pretty simple: Dude wants to get paid (even if he says it's not about the money).
And the fact of the matter is he probably will. He says money doesn't matter but the difference between, say, $50 million and $60 million is — if my math is correct — just about $10 million, and who wouldn't want that much extra money to do the same thing for a team that is decidedly not owned by Charles Wang? You really can't blame anyone ever for wanting to get away from a team run this poorly, and Vanek's pursuit of money and a choose-your-own locale option is even more understandable.
“It has nothing to do with this team and where we are in the standings,” Vanek told Arthur Staple. “I think this team has a tremendous upside. Is it the right move? I don't know.”
I do, and it is. Maybe the Islanders can spend some of that money (but not too much!) on a UFA goalie.
6. This save by Marc-Andre Fleury
Marc-Andre Fleury is a goodish goaltender with an awful habit of completely melting down in the playoffs, and the Penguins should have bought him out this summer for that reason. But they of course did not do that and have been duly rewarded with a very strong goaltending performance. In fact, Fleury is within striking distance of a career high save percentage (for seasons in which he played 40-plus) of .918.
Of course it's also worth noting that for all the talk that he's doing such great work, his save percentage is only up a single point from last season, and he still entered Tuesday's games tied for 15th among qualifying goaltenders.
This stop, though, should count as at least like five saves. Erik Karlsson's reaction is just the absolute best.
The boy Sean Gentille has compiled every quote about the stop he could find and most of them are like “Whattttttttt.”
5. Everything about the goings on with this picture
4. Olympic conditions
The entire nation of Canada was briefly upset yesterday morning when it was revealed that they would be sleeping three-to-a-room in the Athlete's Village in Sochi. Even NHL rookies don't get this kind of shabby treatment and everyone knows they are little more than common trashpeople. The world's greatest players? Surely they deserve better than this.
Of course, the reports that came out of Sochi immediately thereafter might leave Sidney Crosby counting his blessings that he only has to listen to Joe Thornton Patrick Marleau and Shea Weber saw wood on either side of him for the next two and a half weeks or whatever. They at least (probably) have the luxury of a shower curtain, non-toxic water, working toilets, operable hotel elevators, televisions, or working heat. Not everyone in Sochi will be so lucky because, hey, what do you want for $51 billion besides rampant corruption?
Hell, even the privilege of being inside is something for which many athletes should feel deeply lucky. After all, this is a country that is so plagued by roving packs of wild dogs that the Olympic organizers have tried — perhaps without much success — to have professional dog murderers come in and kill the dog packs in question, which is sad and bad if you ask me. You just know Phil Kessel is going to get lost coming back from the rink one day and end up falling in with a particularly wild troop of canines who quickly recognize him as their leader, and later make the Leafs dressing room a lot more uncomfortable and flea-ridden. If they do end up making it, the case of kennel cough that ravages the team just ahead of the playoffs will be what Randy Carlyle cites as the reason they got crushed in the first round.
They seem so friendly chasing those kids up onto that jungle gym and not letting them come down lest they be torn apart. What a fun game!
However, let's not act as though Canadians aren't getting the best accommodations Sochi has to offer, because they are. Latvian biathletes (who are not allowed to propagandize for their sport in Russia because of how close it is to you-know-what) have to share their rooms with said packs of wild, ravening dogs. Those are, by the way, not mints on your pillows.
3. Bill Guerin's commitment to the game
What kind of a maniac spends half a million dollars building a full-size ice hockey rink in their back yard? Bill Guerin, that's who. Dude even bought a Zamboni.
2. “The cap's going up!”
That's a phrase you're going to hear a lot in the next two seasons and a lot of idiots are going to use it to justify an only-slightly-smaller number of colossally bad deals. First and foremost among these is the case of Ryan Callahan, the Rangers' captain who doesn't seem like he's going to be the Rangers' captain after another few weeks at the absolute and very latest.
The reason it seems he's going to be off off off off off Broadway very soon is that his contract demands are, shall we say, outlandish. He is apparently seeking something on the order of low-end Vanek money: seven years at between $6.5 million and $7 million. This is entirely too much in terms of either years or money or both. That is to say, someone giving him seven years will be lamenting having done so after about four at the most, someone giving him close to $7 million a season will not be happy about that decision in the near term, and someone who does both won't have to care because they'll be out of a job long before that contract becomes an overt embarrassment in the view of the general public.
Let's be clear: Ryan Callahan is a good hockey player. Sure he is. He also gets hurt all the time and has career highs in goals and points at 29 and 54, respectively. He also has just nine goals in 39 games this season. This is, flatly, not someone in whom you want to invest the next seven years because, guess what, he's also going to be 29 in March. Ryan Callahan pulling $7 million for you in his Age 35-36 season? Yeah, no thanks.
But this kind of logic will, flatly, not stop anyone from giving him the kind of money he seeks this summer. Get him now, maybe improve your wing depth for the stretch run and the next few years, kick the can down the road and hope like hell you don't get burned because you think he brings “intangibles.” But you will get burned, because players who play like Callahan don't age well.
This league has learned nothing from the David Clarkson contract. Nothing I say!
1. Paul Maurice, Hockey Genius
So the Jets have now played 11 games under new coach Paul Maurice and they have, as if by magic, gone 9-2. That's a really good record. Almost unbelievable for a team that was on a five-game losing streak prior to Claude Noel getting fired, and sat at just 19-23-5.
The question is, then, what is Paul Maurice doing differently from his predecessor over this roughly one-eighth of the season? The answer is, “Riding regression like a madman but still not winning most possession battles.” In those first 10 games, the team's fenwick in close situations has dropped by the thinnest of margins to an even 50 percent from 50.1 in the previous 10 before Noel's firing. Which is to say that they haven't changed much about the way in which they've been moving along, except that they're winning instead of losing.
The reason for that? PDO. In the 10 games before the coaching change, the team's combined save percentage and shooting percentage added up to just 96.6, an absurdly low number for a league which, by necessity of how math works, averages an even 100. In the 10 games since the hiring? It's 103.5, driven largely by an improvement in goaltending, because they went from allowing between four and six goals a night in the previous five to allowing three or four in only three of the following 10 games. Which is to say that Ondrej Pavelec has played a lot better. And that's about it.
Can we attribute this to the coaching change? Probably not. Because on a long enough time scale, PDO pretty much always regresses toward 100. Another inexplicable slump is coming for the Jets, and it's probably coming soon. Maurice won't be any better or worse as a coach as he was before when he turned around this ragtag group of losers and help them win the Minneapolis City Championship against the hated Hawks, his old team!
(Not ranked this week: This thing, All the ways in which Phil Kessel is the greatest, The Torts “Don't Push Me” video, The kid who sat behind Adam Oates, Having to go to bat for a guy who's gonna score 60 goals this season, Throwing a jersey on the ice having jumped the shark, Players retiring you literally didn't have any idea hadn't done so years ago, being named the Phoenix Coyotes, Ryan Miller's patience for trade rumors, the likelihood that Ryan Miller is still a Sabre a month from now, .)