Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Bruins/Habs, NHL in Vegas, World Cup and best goalie ever

Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Bruins/Habs, NHL in Vegas, World Cup and best goalie ever

[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.] 

8. The Bruins in Montreal

You've never seen a great team so scared of a big rival over a period of a few years as the Boston Bruins currently are of the Montreal Canadiens.

B's/Habs is of course a huge rivalry in this sport and with good reason, but lately things have gotten more than a little one-sided. The team has taken to purposely starting its No. 2 goaltender, instead of the reigning Vezina winner, at Centre Bell, because they are so scared that the Habs are in Tuukka Rask's head (and they might be right; his career save percentage against Montreal is a pathetic .902). Likewise, Milan Lucic has to basically be on his big-boy best behavior so as not to make crude gestures to the crowd or threaten to murder any opponents while playing in Montreal, and so on.

The thing is, the Bruins usually don't win in Montreal, either. Not these days. Not anymore. Including last year's playoffs, the Bruins are 6-9-3 against the Canadiens over the last three seasons, including 3-6 at Bell Centre.

Bruins fans have taken to blaming all manner of things that are not “the Bruins just aren't that great this year” for the losses so far this season, including the fact that both meetings were in Montreal on the second day of back-to-backs. Boy, imagine how much whining would come out if the Bs were in the Western Conference, huh?

7. The World Cup of Hockey format

The new/old World Cup of Hockey tournament is basically guaranteed to replace the NHL's Olympic participation at some point within the next decade, but if the format holds up as is rumored, it's going to be dumb.

Sure, you get the Big Six nations in there: The U.S., Canada, Finland, Sweden, Russia, and the Czechs. Gotta have those guys. But the other two teams are “Every other country” and either “Young Stars” or “Other Good Players from North America.” Ugh.

I get why you need to include an “Every other country” thing, to work in your stars from other countries, like Anze Kopitar and Marian Hossa. It would be a shame for them to sit out the competition because their countries kind of suck at hockey. It's stupid, but I get it.

A Young Stars team is dumb for the reason of, “It's not representing anything other than youth,” which isn't a thing that should happen in the World Cup. Further, if there's a good player who doesn't make his country's team and he's under the age limit, why should he get a shot to play over, say, the fifth-best “overage” center in Canada?

In theory the “North America B Team” scenario solves this problem, giving that fifth-best Canadian center a chance to compete, alongside various Americans not good enough to make the U.S. team (though, really, letting anyone into the tournament who didn't make the American side after the disaster that was the Sochi selection process probably guarantees this team finishes well ahead of the U.S. anyway). “North America B Team,” though, will essentially be “18 Canadians and two American goalies.” I don't see the point.

This is essentially the NHL saying, “Hey, remember the North America vs. The World All-Star format? How great was that?” Oh yeah, we remember. It was terrible. This would be too.

If you can't choose between the last two countries to make this tournament for the express purpose of getting run the hell over by Sweden, Canada, and the U.S., then making up rules isn't going to fix the “competition” problem inherent in any modern international hockey tournament.

6. “Get away from me”-Gate

It's about ethics in Leafs journalism.

This weekend the Maple Leafs got crushed by the Sabres and the Toronto media felt like it wanted to go rile up Phil Kessel by asking him the same three idiotic questions it asked everyone else in the room that night:

“What went wrong for you tonight?”

“Do you think you could have played better?”

“What do you guys need to do to bounce back?”

(These aren't, I guess, so much questions as malformed musings designed to grab the most apologetic quotes that can be plugged into already-written stories. But that's beside the point.)

Phil Kessel, bless his heart, was having none of it, telling reporters, “Get away from me,” before walking away himself. You'd have thought he took a swing at one of them, the way they all ganged up and repudiated Kessel for being unprofessional and rude and mean. This ignores the fact that he tries not to talk after a hat trick in a 4-0 win, let alone an embarrassing loss to one of the worst teams in league history. This ignores the fact that he purposely didn't make himself available to the media, but they waited him out like buzzards waiting for something out in the desert to die.

And so of course he's mad, and of course he doesn't want to talk. Could he have phrased things differently? Yes. Should he be under an obligation to do so? No.

Personal anecdote: Back when I covered the Bruins with some amount of regularity in 2008, Kessel was a second-year player who had gone through a pretty good year, 19-18-37. The Bruins were playing Montreal in the playoffs, and Kessel famously found himself benched for Games 2 through 4 after a poor Game 1. He'd scored a goal in a big win in Montreal to push the series back to Boston in a Game 5. And in that fifth game — which was as out-of-control exciting an NHL game as I've ever seen live — Kessel scored twice. He was dynamite, six shots on goal, one of those “could have had four” games Kessel will occasionally play.

After the game, a small number of reporters waited around for Kessel, and the wait was a long one. I don't remember the exact amount of time, but most of the room had cleared out pretty healthily after just about every other Bruin had made himself available for quotes. Finally Kessel comes out, gives a few minutes of boring platitudes about “I just wanted to play my game” and that kind of thing, says thanks, and gets everyone to disperse. At the time, I thought to myself, “What a dick,” but I think we didn't really know Kessel then as we do now: He abhors the spotlight, and if I'd known that in 2008, I wouldn't have begrudged him anything.

Following arguably the biggest game of his career to that point, he made himself available, but didn't make it worth anyone's while to talk to him. Which is his prerogative. And at this point, it's clearly how he prefers to play things.

The Toronto media is fully aware of this, and yet they continue to antagonize him. On the other hand, there's this from Damien Cox, who's just being myopic, as is his wont:

Sorry, not buying it with Kessel. It's amazing how LITTLE the media demands are for Leafs in this city. Try being Crosby for a one day.

— Damien Cox (@DamoSpin) November 18, 2014

Clearly BS, but okay sure. Let's say that's the case, right? Let's say they take it easy on the big stars there. They don't, but let's say they do. If they go up to Kessel after the game and toss him a few of those dumbass softballs, are they really going to get anything noteworthy out of him that they'll use. “Phil Kessel, meanwhile, said losing is bad and he's mad the team lost.” Great stuff, you harassed a guy who hates this stuff.

Hope you're proud of yourselves.

5. Vegas, maybe!

The NHL inches ever closer to having a team in Las Vegas, which has grown into such a huge inevitability that the “maybe” tag that is still consistently applied seems more winking than anything else.

But as with just about anything else in this league, they're going to keep denying it for a while. “A team in Las Vegas? Oh I don't know!” “A team in Vegas you say? That's one of many possibilities for expansion that we happen to be considering every hour of every day.” “Yes we've thought about a team in Vegas but we always have our ears open and we're just as likely to put one in Chelyabinsk.” “A Las Vegas NHL team? Well I guess you never know.”

And then one day, bam. “Yeah of course we're giving Vegas a team. This has been in the works for some time and you all knew it but we had to pretend like it wasn't gonna happen.

They're building a rink, the league's meeting with the would-be owners. It's happening soon. Within the next few years. Obviously.

4. Not-claiming Josh Harding

It was a little bit surprising to see the Wild try to force Josh Harding through waivers earlier this week, because you had to figure someone would claim him. Weirdly, though, no one did.

The fact of the matter is that even if you're worried he hasn't played a game in 11 months, and even if you're worried he's kind of an idiot for that whole wall-kicking thing, plenty of teams need actual goaltending help and have the cap room to add him. Teams that immediately spring to mind here are New Jersey (Cory Schneider really might play every game this year, I guess), Edmonton, and Washington, just to name a few.

There's also the concern about how much he'd be able to help given that he has MS, so you see why he went through waivers untouched, and is now headed to the AHL. But given his cap hit and how desperate some teams really ought to be here, it was a bit shocking after all.

3. Being about ego

The second-funniest thing of the season so far is Martin Brodeur continuing to work out in hopes of getting another NHL job. Buddy, if even those above-listed desperate teams don't want you, no one does.

The funniest thing of the season so far is Brodeur saying his desire to get one last deal is “not about ego or anything.” I mean, look, if he wants to say he's pursuing a job because he loves the game, that's understandable. Or even if he just wants another few hundred thousand bucks in his bank account, I get it. But it's not about ego? Who buys that?

But then again, maybe he's just playing it smart. If you believe Brodeur's desire to get back into the league isn't about ego, you might also be dumb enough to believe he's worth signing.

2. The “greatest goalie ever” debate

And with that Brodeur revelation, and the fact that Dominik Hasek finally got into the Hockey Hall of Fame this week, it gave the hockey world another chance to blow some of the collected dust off the Roy/Brodeur/Hasek debate which has raged on for what feels like centuries.

Each competitor here has his benefits (Brodeur's win total, Roy's flashy play that elevated him to being one of the few hyper-visible goaltenders of a high-scoring time, Hasek's ability to dominate the dead-puck era in a way no other goaltender has ever dominated any other era). Each has his drawbacks (Brodeur played on a “trap” team that theoretically made his job easier, Roy played on basically nothing but all-star teams, and Hasek … I guess maybe you say he stuck around too long?).

It's not something anyone is going to be convinced on, either. If you're backing Roy, I can't show you adjusted save percentages that show how wrong you are. If you think it's Brodeur there's no convincing you. If you think it's Hasek, you're not going to listen to arguments in favor of the other two.

Ah, but it's a fun debate to have anyway. Just like Gretzky/Lemieux/Howe. And it won't go away, either. It's only going to get worse if Henrik Lundqvist or Tuukka Rask can rack up a few more of these before their careers are over.

(But for the record, Hasek is the best goalie ever and it's not close.)

1. Arizona State

There's now going to be a Div. 1 college hockey team in Tempe. The hope is that the rest of the Pac 12 will follow suit in the near future. Which would be crazy and awesome. Arizona State will be the 60th team in Div. 1 starting in 2015-16, when they'll play a mix of Div. 1 and club teams, and 2016-17 will be their first full season as a Div. 1 club.

Any Arizona media outlets who want a beat guy, give me a call. Thanks.

(Not ranked this week: The dry scrape.

It's gone, and it should be. But it shouldn't have ever existed. And yet it did. Why? No good reason. The league was probably just in another blind pursuit of money. But, like, did anyone think it was a good idea)