Power Rankings: Lightning reclaim supremacy

Puck Daddy
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/players/5425/" data-ylk="slk:Nikita Kucherov">Nikita Kucherov</a> has driven the Lightning back to the top of the NHL. (Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)
Nikita Kucherov has driven the Lightning back to the top of the NHL. (Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)

Hey everyone, we here at Puck Daddy are doing real power rankings for teams Nos. 1-31. Here they are, based on only how I am feeling about these teams, meaning you can’t tell me I’m wrong because these are my feelings and feelings can’t be wrong. Please enjoy the Power Feelings.

31. Vancouver Canucks (Last week: 31)

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30. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 30)

It seems wild to me that only in the last week or two, the people in the Detroit media have started to say, “Y’know, it doesn’t seem like Ken Holland is doing that great of a job. Wonder what happens with him…”

Now granted I saw the cracks on this team’s long-term prospects about six or seven years ago, long before Ken Holland really started screwing up, but it was the pursuit of the playoffs every single season that sowed the team’s doom long after they should have committed to a formal rebuild. All those bad contracts, man. If you didn’t see this coming you were intentionally not paying attention.

Which, yeah, the Detroit media has been pretty rah-rah for the Red Wings for the past few years despite their obvious issues, pretty much all of which boil down to two factors: Ken Holland giving everyone loyalty contracts, and the inexorable passage of time. I’m pretty sure you can’t fire/not-renew the second one so the first one seems like a pretty obvious solution.

Bad news if you’re taking over from him, though: He’s leaving you the Augean Stables of CapFriendly pages.

29. Ottawa Senators (LW: 29)

28. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 28)

27. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 27)

Saw something the other day where a writer who shall remain nameless and unlinked-to was like, “Why are all the analytics guys ignoring John Chayka’s lack of success? Seems like they only talk about analytics being good when teams are successful.”

(I don’t know why this is starting out so heavy on media-takes!)

And it’s lilke, okay, let’s take that argument at face value, which with this particular guy, you really shouldn’t do because it’s intentionally disingenuous. But let’s do it and answer the questions:

a) The “Analytics Guys” I know are, by and large, skeptical of what Chayka’s company does with microstat-tracking and the like; it’s all proporietary so we don’t really know what kind of application it has to actual winning and losing of hockey games, player evaluation, etc.

b) The Coyotes’ problems go well beyond whether analytics is the proper way to approach the game because they’re not allowed to spend a lot of money to actually get talented NHL players. The vast majority of NHL teams are within $5 million of the salary cap. All but two have north of $66 million in player commitments this season. Those two? Carolina and Arizona at 30 and 31, respectively. Both have $59.2 million or less. The NHL salary floor is $55.4 million, so Arizona is a whopping 6 percent over the absolute minimum they are allowed to pay players. Any Real Hockey Guy who has never heard of Corsi would struggle with that constraint.

c) You’re being an idiot again, Steve.

26. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 25)

25. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 26)

How about this one: Chicago went 2-2 this week, including a win over the Bruins, but gave up 146 shots on goal. That’s 36.5 per night. I mean, y’know, this team is a shell of its former self for a lot of the same reasons Ken Holland got himself in trouble. They’re not anywhere near the end of the road Holland is a lot farther down, but they’re on that path.

Stan Bowman, though, probably seems like he has a plan. He’s drafted well relative to his deep positions and that’s good. But I don’t know where this team goes from here if it can’t offload a big contract or three.

24. New York Rangers (LW: 24)

A winless week! Now that’s how you tank, baby!

23. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 21)

22. New York Islanders (LW: 20)

21. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 23)

The Oilers are now doing that thing where they just let Connor McDavid win them games and it’s like, “Hey guys, don’t let him do that!” Start tripping him yourselves if you have to!

Even despite the winning streak, Edmonton ended the survey period just two points up on Montreal for a top-five pick. Gotta get after that.

20. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 19)

19. Florida Panthers (LW: 22)

18. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 17)

17. Calgary Flames (LW: 18)

Saw where Glen Gulutzan had another big F-bomb rant in practice, and while there were indeed a lot of F-bombs (almost 20) packed into less than two minutes of talking, he wasn’t stick-throwing, jumping-up-and-down like earlier in the year.

He did, however, snap at a reporter who asked a simple question the night before. This after an ugly home loss to Islanders in which the score was 5-2 to the visitors, but shots were 52-27 to the home side. Their previous home game? A week before against the Rangers, they scored one goal on 51 shots and lost 3-1.

Now, if you’re in a playoff hunt and want to keep your guys motivated, you probably ignore that the home losses to the crap New York teams sandwich a three-game East-Coast road swing in which you took five of six points. That’s just carrot-and-stick stuff.

You probably also take solace, though perhaps not outwardly, in the fact that if you take 103 shots in any two given consecutive home games, the odds that you only score three goals are pretty low regardless of how good the goalies you face are.

But the fact that this is twice Gulutzan has gone off on swearing jags following unsatisfactory results, and also snapped at a media member, leads me to believe, “Ahh, hmm, it seems like he has no idea how to fix the problem and he’s mad about it, but all the being mad he’s doing isn’t gonna put the Flames back in the playoffs.”

Which, hey, who could have imagined Glen Gulutzan getting himself into that situation with a not-very-deep team when he first took the job two summers ago? What’s that? “Everyone?” Interesting.

16. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 15)

Still not sure what to think about these guys! I thought they were done like a month ago but the rest of the Pacific is so bad they look like they’ll at least be cannon fodder for an actual good team in the first round.

15. St. Louis Blues (LW: 14)

14. New Jersey Devils (LW: 16)

13. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 11)

12. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 12)

They’re starting to play passable special-teams hockey at just the right time. And frankly, for the first time all season.

11. Minnesota Wild (LW: 13)

How about this one, folks: Since the start of the new year, the Wild have the fourth-best points percentage in the NHL.

They’re behind Nashville, Boston, and Pittsburgh. That’s it. So you know, by process of elimination, that it puts them ahead of Winnipeg, Tampa, and Toronto.

Wouldn’t have expected that. I should probably have them higher but the possession numbers show it might be a little bit smoke-and-mirrors.

10. Dallas Stars (LW: 10)

9. Washington Capitals (LW: 7)

I think I’m almost officially out on these guys. Another week or two. That’s all I have left for ’em.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 9)

7. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 8)

Okay yeah they went 2-1 this week. All their games were on the road. But they got clubbed by Columbus, smoked Detroit, and needed a shootout to beat Buffalo. They have two regulation wins since Feb. 26.

Maybe just maybe everything’s catching up to them.

6. San Jose Sharks (LW: 6)

5. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 5)

Seems like the Pens might have figured out the whole not-having-Matt-Murray thing. They just put up almost 33 shots a night and tell Evgeni Malkin he has to average like two points a game. Pretty good system.

4. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 4)

3. Nashville Predators (LW: 3)

2. Boston Bruins (LW: 1)

They finally lost to snap a six-game winning streak, but they needed to play Chicago in a both-traveling back-to-back in which they were hit with a double minor to their second-best defenseman late in the third period, while their first-best defenseman, third-best defenseman, No. 1 center, and No. 1 left wing were all out injured. And also David Backes was suspended.

So yeah, these guys are looking pretttttttttttty vulnerable.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 2)

Not so much because of the Bruins but because of themselves, the Bolts are back in the top spot this week. They became the first team in the league to hit 100 points, went undefeated in the three games examined, and so on.

It’s really them, Boston, Nashville, Winnipeg, then a pretty big gap before you get to everyone else.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All stats via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)

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