Since tedious analysis is the stuff of "power rankings," each Monday NHL Closer writer Greg Wyshynski uses a form of universal expression: Success in terms of beer. Before we get to how wickedly selfish Mats Sundin is, welcome to The Brewmeister Ratings...
Winner No. 1: Your Three-Time Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils. An undefeated week, including yesterday's OT game-winner by John Madden in Washington, has propelled the Devils into first overall in the Eastern Conference. As both a Devils fan and a Jersey-bred cynic, color me flabbergasted — Marty Brodeur's been playing behind a defense with the solidity of wet Charmin, and the team's second-leading scorer is two years removed from the Hep. (Thanks, Ashton.) Another Stanley Cup for Jersey? Yeah, the NHL wants that about as much as the people of Newark wanted a hockey arena. The Beer They'd Be: An ice cold Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA served in the lap of lovely actress Megan Fox, whose film "Transformers" was absolutely robbed at last night's Academy Awards. And yes, I'm talking about that hack Javier Bardem stealing Bumblebee's Best Supporting Actor gold, friend-o.
Winner No. 2: Calgary Flames. At the beginning of the season, Miikka Kiprusoff wasn't in game-shape; he was pretty much in Will Ferrell shape, giving up 35 goals in October and seriously fucking at least one team in every fantasy league in North America. But now, it's game-on: He gave up two goals overall in wins against Phoenix, Detroit and Minnesota over the last week; a 4-0 stretch for the now first-place Flames in the Smythe Division. Raise your hand if you thought Mike Keenan would remain this sane this late in the season. The Beer They'd Be: A case of freshly-brewed Sleeman Cream Ale that Theo Fleury used to stash in the Zamboni ice shavings at the Saddledome.
Loser No. 1: Philadelphia Flyers. Look, I picked on the Flyboys enough last week, so no need to kick any more sand in their face. But what sort of karmic blunder did this team perpetrate to go winless in 10 games and lose both Simon Gagne and Mike Richards during that stretch? Kick a puppy? Punch a nun? Criticize Obama's optimism? The Beer They'd Be: A warm, half-filled brew some college kid partially ralphed in while leaving a show at the Electric Factory.
Loser No. 2: Minnesota Wild. Jacques Lemaire doesn't really push the panic button...he sort of just chews his gum more vigorously. But a 0-2-1 stretch last week has trade winds a-blowin' in Minnesota. I know the concept of bringing in high-priced talent rather than trading it to New York or Boston is a foreign concept for many Minnesotan sports fans, but it does happen from time to time. The Beer They'd Be: A bottle of Leinenkugel shattered against the wall of a Minneapolis bar in disgust, only to be resurrected by the holy power of Adrian Peterson.
Wrestling Mats. I had thoughts on Mats Sundin refusing to waive his no-trade clause on FanHouse last night, and I'm taking grief for them. Sorry: I don't see anything classy or valorous in his decision; if the guy so dearly wants to contribute to Toronto's turnaround and improve things for his teammates, then a little self-sacrifice for fresh talent goes a long way. Much more insulting is his attack on the validity of "the concept of a rental player"; I figure he must have left flaming bags of dog shit inside the lockers of Glen Wesley (7 regular season games in 2003), Brian Leetch (15 games in 2004) and Luke Richardson (21 games in 2006) when they came to Toronto... you know, out of principle. Despite this, I still think there's a way for Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher to scare up some Sundin business at the deadline; and his name is Lego Mats:
Like That Will Smith Movie With the Giant Mechanical Spider. The Western Conference is quite good. Teemu Selanne's hat trick in a 6-3 win over the Blackhawks moved him past Rocket Richard into 25th place on the career goals list with 546. The Ducks are 9-1-0 since his return from old-guy laziness. By the way: Is there some special award the NHL can give out each week to the player who injures Pronger the most? Meanwhile, Ilya Bryzgalov back-stopped the Coyotes over the Blues, but not even the return of Joe Sakic could keep the Avalanche from losing to the lowly Oilers. What sucks about the West: Right now, the best stories in the conference — Phoenix, Colorado, Columbus, St. Louis, Chicago — are on the outside looking in for the playoffs.
* The story of a fan, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and French kissing the Stanley Cup. Specifically, Dominik Hasek's name. If I had a chance to lick any name engraved on the Stanley Cup, there's only one place I would go: Brett Hull, 1998-99 Dallas Stars, just to find out if it tastes like Buffalo's tears. [All Hockey All The Time]
* Uniformed police officers come to Canadian junior hockey locker rooms to look for recruits. Or as we Americans like to call it, "Police Academy 8: Assignment Alberta." Can't wait for that scene where Michael Winslow impersonates a goal horn. [Calgary Sun]
* My buddy Japers asks a legit question as a Capitals fan: Is Alexander the Gr8's new Internet romance behind the slump for both he and his team? In other words, are we seeing the birth of Romovechkin? [Japers Rink]
* Even though Glen Sather speaks to the NY media about as much as Sean Avery speaks to Howard Berger, he did tell the Edmonton press that Jaromir Jagr won't be traded and that he'd like to resign him. Which just increases the chances that my theory is correct, and Isiah Thomas is manipulating the late Glen Sather's body in a wacky "Weekend at Bernie's"-style adventure in mismanagement. [Newsday]
* Finally, it's Monday night, so it's wrestling night. Get past the first 40 seconds of Vinnie Mac yammering and witness Stone Cold's classic Zamboni attack (and subsequent arrest) in Detroit: