[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. Zac Rinaldo, why don't you come to your senses?
So Zac Rinaldo got eight games for hitting Kris Letang from behind and more or less gloating about it afterward, as though eight games is going to serve as any sort of deterrent to the kind of behavior that makes him so corrosive to the idea that this is or ever was a game for classy professional athletes who don't want to severely hurt each other.
There's no good reason a no-talent dirtbag like this should be on an NHL roster here in 2015 and if you think there is you are, flatly, living in the past. If ever a time when such a player's presence in this league could be tolerated, it is certainly not in the era of Player Safety, concussion awareness, and analytics, all of which suggest that players of Rinaldo's quality and ilk are better left out by the curb with the rest of the garbage.
Broad Street Hockey had a nice post on the subject of Rinaldo being an “embarrassment” which attracted the usual low-functioning cretin to bang on about grit and being hard to play against and not being a real hockey fan. But how do we know, really, that Rinaldo — who now has three suspensions and a fine to his name in just 201 games (in which he plays an average of fewer than eight minutes a night because he's awful) — is the worst kind of actor in the league? The total lack of contrition.
That guileless smirk on his face, and his, “We won the game, didn't we?” justification for his actions after the fact probably didn't sit well with anyone at league office. Next time, they might actually have the courage of their convictions to throw the book at him.
But the good news is that in the amount of time he would have played in the eight games for which he was suspended, Rinaldo will almost be able to bang out a binge-watch three whole episodes of Two and a Half Men.
7. The Okposo injury
This is extremely troubling for the club, who now have a big hole in the lineup to fill. He's second on the team in points, third in goals, and second in minutes among forward. It goes without saying that he and John Tavares have formed a potent attack that, when on the ice together, drives possession at more than 55 percent and results in a whole hell of a lot of goals.
The idea of the Isles going even a week without him is difficult to see, but eight might just be a bridge too far in terms of them keeping things going at quite the same pace as before. It's difficult to underscore how impactful this is likely to be, because not only does Okposo deliver in attack, but he also plays the most difficult competition of anyone on the team.
All that having been said, it's not a death blow. It's not a Halak or Tavares injury, which would probably be impossible to come back from. But it's extremely difficult nonetheless, and we're probably going to learn a lot about the Islanders both in terms of overall quality and depth in the next six to eight weeks.
6. Stamkos to Toronto!!!!!!!
How quaint it was, just a few months ago, when people started conjecturing about the idea of Steven Stamkos “coming home” to the Greater Toronto Area to play for his beloved Maple Leafs just as soon as his current contract is up in Tampa.
You know that many in the Toronto media had July 1 circled as the day to watch, because that's when Tampa will officially be able to sign him to what you can only assume is going to be a huge extension for the maximum length of time allowable. If he didn't sign by then, buddy, you knew he was TO-bound! Fulfilling his destiny to lead the club he presumably cheered for as a kid back to glory and all that.
Except he just said this weekend that he wants to get a deal done in Tampa as soon as he possibly can. Which kind of puts a sword through the whole “Stamkos to the Buds” balloon that's been bobbing around hopefully for the last several months.
Because here's the thing no one thought of: Why on earth does Stamkos want to go be The Guy in Toronto, where if he doesn't score 55 a year with what I'm sure would be the No. 2 minutes he gets behind Tyler f'n Bozak, media goons start calling him a lazy coach killer at every turn? Oh and also why would he want to go to the Leafs — who suck and probably will for at least a few more years to come while they fix this badly broken organization — in the prime of his career, when Tampa is a good organization filled with terrifying young talent and doesn't require any sort of extensive rebuild. What are the Bolts, like, two half-decent pieces away from being legitimately Cup-competitive? The Leafs are two lines away.
This was never gong to happen, Leaf fans. Eh, but maybe you still have a shot with John Tavar... haha just kidding.
5. “Hey nerds corsi is gonna die soon heh heh heh”
Another thing that happened over the weekend was the NHL unveiled its big new stats system, which tracks players and the puck in real time and was really damn cool to watch in action. It will make tracking games much easier and more interesting.
This, of course, led the usual media dullards to joke about how this is going to make corsi look ridiculous by comparison, and how it's so great that corsi will be dead and everything like that.
Which, well, yes and no.
It is going to make corsi ridiculous, probably, but it's also going to make stat tracking more complicated and deeper, and it will still take people who are too dumb to understand the value of shot attempt-based metrics a long time and probably a decent amount of frustrated pointing at graphs for them to understand what the new data is meant to be showing them.
This data will supplant corsi, fenwick, et al, not subvert it.
Do these people honestly think that if they cannot understand how corsi correlates to goalscoring and therefore winning — and how easily it is tracked and compiled into one number that actually tells you an awful lot about how good a team is — that they're going to pick up on how important something like, say, pass completion rates correlate to corsi which correlates to goals which correlates to winning.
The reason these people really ought to be excited is that it's going to start spitting out player speed data, which will give them something else to criticize Phil Kessel and Alex Ovechkin for when these new metrics further prove how great they are.
(No one tell them that NHL.com is going to start displaying corsi data in the next few weeks, either.)
4. The Bobrovsky injury
So Sergei Bobrovsky is hurt again and expected to miss at least a month. The good news is that the Blue Jackets were never going to close a 14-point deficit in the standings to begin with. Might as well try to out-tank New Jersey.
3. Waiving Mike Richards
Well Mike Richards hit the waiver wire this week and no one even bothered claiming him because he is expensive and bad. Which is one of those things where the wheels really just fell off a guy over the course of two or three seasons and at first everyone wanted to act like these were hiccups and not a trend, even though the signs were there all along.
And now the Kings are stashing so much cap hit in the AHL and only getting the slightest bit of relief, which is only fair and makes sense. The fact that anyone even had a discussion with the Kings about a trade is insane to me, but if you're talking swaps for bad contracts, Calgary and Toronto both have plenty of 'em to go around.
This was a decision that absolutely had to be made, but I'm shocked LA actually took that step. The team's cap crunch this season has been well-publicized, of course, but this is possibly the most drastic step they could have taken even if it's also the most logical.
The real question is how much of a desire they have to keep Richards, who still has a few years left on his deal, in the AHL at that price point for that long. Would it be altogether shocking if he, say, starts next season with the big club again? What if the Kings put him on re-entry waivers just to get rid of him? Does anyone step up then with the knowledge that at least they wouldn't have had to worry about cap recapture hitting them too hard? This is a frankly bizarre situation.
Especially because amnesty buyouts were a path a team could pursue as recently as last summer. Buy a guy out, nothing owed but money, and see ya later. Let Richards figure it out on someone else's time, while this team with pretensions of winning Stanley Cup yet again pursued that goal unencumbered by his $5.75 million cap hit for the season. You could get a better center just about anywhere in free agency.
Boy wouldn't a compliance buyout have solved all these problems? Gee whiz.
2. Rallying around Phil Kessel
Loved the jokes about how coachable and good Phil Kessel is, and how much they seemed to not like the way the media treats him in general. I think it's telling that while the players clearly like giving him a bit of a hard time — picking him last in that first-ever fantasy draft, trading him for Tyler Seguin this time around — they clearly value his talent and seem to like him personally.
1. Everything about All-Star weekend that wasn't the All-Star Game
The thing with people complaining about how big of a joke the All-Star Game is, is that it's always that bad, and it's always totally not the point.
All-Star weekend is about having fun, and if you leave out how big of a hung-over mess Sunday always is, what part of the NHL season is more fun than this? No one takes it seriously because it cannot be taken seriously, and as a consequence everyone spends literally two straight days laughing and having a good time. This is a miserable league a lot of the time, with all the perceived scandals and hand-wringing about trying hard and stats-versus-the-eye-test and so on and so on every season and beyond, 363 days a year. You can't even count the All-Star Game because it makes miserable morons bemoan, like, a lack of backchecking and trying hard or something. I'm never going to understand it.
But the draft, where players clearly more than a little liquored up and making fun of each other? It's great. The Skills Competition, where players are not only showing off the dazzling talents that make them the best in the world — shooting a puck 108.5 miles an hour! Skating around the rink at 30 miles an hour! Stick handling the best goalies on the planet out of their pants! — but also trying to light their sticks on fire and letting little kids take penalty shots against NHL goalies in front of 16,000 people.
Everyone has a good time for 48 straight hours, and that never happens in this stupid league. So of course everyone complains about it. Of course they do.
(Not ranked this week: People complaining about Alex Ovechkin.
Likewise, Alex Ovechkin spent the whole weekend campaigning for Honda to give him a $30,000 car. “Haha, the millionaire wants a decent import sedan that he could buy several times over with a single week's pay. Good one Ovie.”
But then it turns out he wants it so he can donate it to a hockey program with kids for developmental disabilities, and you'd have thought he wanted it so he could drive onto the ice in the middle of their practice and run them over.
“If he wanted it so bad, he should have just bought it instead of begging for it! He can afford it!”
You know who else can afford it? A company that saw its net profit more than double to $1.6 billion in the final quarter of 2013.
And guess what else? Let's say he gets the car at the Fantasy Draft, or even if he wins MVP of the All-Star Game. He then goes, “Cool thank you for the car, I'm going to donate it to a hockey league for kids with developmental disabilities.” And everyone goes, “Wow, what I nice guy Alex Ovechkin is.” But because he made a big show of wanting it, he is somehow selfish. People actually think like this, huh? Good lord.)