NHL Top Ten, News, Notes And A Trivia Question!

Marc Elliott

SAWYER… With most NHL teams at or above the ten game mark it’s time to check out some rankings and try to filter out which ones make the most sense. I check them daily and agree with some and disagree with others. But that’s the beauty of these lists, they give us pause to consider what we have observed and how we feel about it. It’s also fair to note that the Minnesota Wild will be playing their 10th game tonight versus the Winnipeg Jets while other teams have 13 tilts on the books already. The Wilds sparse schedule thus far brings me to a couple of observations, with the team playing the least number of games in the league over a three and a half week span, and then by adding in the bye week that teams now get during the season, this means the club is going to have a diminished time frame with which they will have to finish the rest of the regular season schedule. What will this mean to the teams chances and for their older veteran players? Time will tell if it has impact or not. I bring this up because this is a team that has spent the last third of their recent seasons fighting just to get into the playoffs. Here is what I check; The Athletic list of playoff probabilities, the Sagarin NHL rank, and the NHL standings. Lets look at their top tens;

The Athletic; TAMPA, CBJ, PITT, STL, LAK, BOS, CHI, DALLAS, WINN & NYI. You must remember this list is ranked upon probability of making the playoffs and utilizes a different mathematical formula then would be used to simply create a power rank. It basically says that Tampa is the most likely to get into the tournament at this time. I can’t really disagree with this and the only things I spot here are that based on recent seasons will the NYI and WINN make it in? There are some teams that will get in this year that haven’t done that recently and that means someone who did, won’t. (list 10/31)  

The Sagarin; TAMPA, STL, LAK, ANAH, CBJ, VEGAS, WILD, CHI, TOR AND PHI. The Sagarin is more of a daily power rank based on multiple factors and even uses a sort of floating strength of schedule formula based on who you have played and how they have done. While I can go along with the first six clubs listed here, I can’t go along with the next four. In addition, in the first big roadie in franchise history, the VGK got pasted by the NYI last night and lost yet another goalie to injury. I’d like to be a homer but I do not yet see the Wild as a top ten team yet, and for the Hawks, in my humble opinion, they will be lucky to MAKE the playoff this year. I not only see their Cup window as having closed, their past Cap issues and subsequent roster juggling has come home to roost and has virtually thrown a rock through it. Further, you trade a dynamic scorer (Panarin) who wove perfectly with another who still has offensive upside (Kane) to bring back Brandon Saad in an attempt to prop up another player (Toews) whose offense is in decline, for who knows why? And your top ‘D’ pair doesn’t have the same juice anymore. Panic in the Windy City? And have GM Bowman and Coach Q got back on the same page? (10/29)

NHL League Standings; top ten are, TAMPA, STL, LAK, VGK, NJ, CBJ, NYI, OTT, PITT and VAN. This is most likely misleading due to an uneven number of games played and is based on points accumulated. THIS is probably a better list based upon points gained over all by percentage of games played. That list has; TAMPA, STL, NJ, VGK, LAK, CBJ, VAN, OTT, NYI and WINN. By comparison the WILD are 15th on that chart. So what do these lists indicate if anything? I’ll get to that in a moment. (10/31)

Here is my current top ten power rank; TAMPA, STL, CBJ, LAK, NJ, ANAH, VAN, VGK, DAL and WINN. A week ago my list would have been heavily weighted toward Eastern clubs, The past few days and games haven’t been kind to them. The Pens were at or near the top of a lot of lists and they were dismantled by the Wild and Jets over the weekend. Some lists are still high on Boston but I can’t see that. They are 4-6 with a -3 differential. The Caps, yes the Caps are 5-7 and are -5. They still show flashes but are inconsistent. The NYR are 3-9 and a -9! Fans want Coach Alain Vignault fired but wait! Did AV suddenly forget how to coach? NO! It’s your roster NYR fans. Get real. What’s the old saying amongst league GM’s? Think like a fan, talk like a fan and pretty soon you will be a fan. I hope that Jeff Gorton doesn’t make some kind of knee jerk move, because in my book that’s what doing that would be. 

The Maple Leafs began very strong but have since cooled. For all of their youthful talent
they are still in the process of acquiring experience and it shows at times. They kicked off October by going 4-1 in their first five and have finished it by going 1-4. They are an exciting team to watch though and are 2nd if Goals For in the league. Some bad news for fans across Canada, this will likely be another year without a Cup challenger from North of the Border. A lot of analysts thought Edmonton might emerge and make another move up the ladder but they are struggling out of the gate with a 3-7 record and a -11 differential. On the percent of points chart they are 28th. Ouch. For me they were the Canadian team with the best chance of moving toward a Cup. And the Montreal Habs? Kind of a big mess. 4-8 and a -14.  

At this early juncture the Lightning and the STL Blues are the two strongest clubs. That’s the constant on anyone’s list. How will that play out as we move forward? Here are two unofficial markers to watch; if your team is in a playoff position by American Thanksgiving, the likelihood is strong they will make it. If you add up your PP and PK numbers and they total at least 105, you will probably get in. For the Wild right now, they aren’t in a playoff spot and their combined number is 99.6, food for thought… PEACE

MFAN TRIVIA  Q; Who were the first two athletes to make at least $100k in a year?
A; Babe Ruth & Minnesotan Verne Gagne, former U of M, OLY and AWA wrestler!

OVER & OUT!