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 a steam-rolling in Pittsburgh, welcome to The Brewmeister Ratings...
Winner No. 1: Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks went 2-0-1 last week, inching closer to San Jose's division lead and earning home ice (for the moment) in a potential first-round playoff Thunderdome with Dallas. But the real reason they're winners is because Chris Pronger survived Day Two of his skate-stomp story; receiving just an eight-game suspension despite the protests of the prissy, bitter Canadian victim culture and noted psychopath Chris Simon, who believes Pronger was given preferential treatment, probably because he never confused Ryan Hollweg's skull for a Whiffle ball. The Ducks will get Pronger back for the season's most important games...until his next inevitable Thug Life incident in the playoffs. The Beer They'd Be: A tasty stout served up by a lass who really, really, really knows how to dress for an Irish parade.
Winner No. 2: Florida Panthers. A month ago on the improbability scale, the Panthers making the Wales Conference playoff cut ranked somewhere between Eliot Spitzer getting taken down by a slightly-more-masculine Sandra Bullock and Astronaut Jones offering a more eloquent defense of Barack Obama's presidential bid than Barack Obama has. And yet all three may just become a reality. Florida had an undefeated week, and along with the Capitals are two points away from catching the Flyers for the final berth. Here's a team with a Finnish scorer that's been mentioned more as trade bait than a legit star; a loathsome coach who looks like an extra from "The Secret of NIMH"; a roster populated with names that read like rejected 1970s TV detective series ("Bouwmeester!", "Montador!"); and a back-up goalie who can't stop creepily leering at Ice Girls. What's not to love? The Beer They'd Be: An ice cold Dos Equis, consumed quietly as you watch the models frolic in South Beach.
Loser No. 1: Dallas Stars. I could just pull down my pants and take another liquidity shit on the Islanders, but why beat a horse that may have never been alive to begin with? (Especially when one guy in a brewing team feud has a 15-year contract, and the other guy doesn't.) Instead: Boo on you, Dallas Stars. Boo-urns. An 0-2 week inside a 1-5 stretch that suddenly finds Dallas in the fifth-seed; if the playoffs started today, they'd visit Anaheim, where the Ducks have lost just eight times in regulation this season. Fun fact: Since he signed his five-year contract extension on Jan. 7, Mike Ribeiro has exactly six goals after scoring 21 before it. Great investment there, Hully. The Beer They'd Be: A bottle of Corona smuggled across the Rio Grande in an unmentionable place.
Loser No. 2: Philadelphia Flyers. The good news for NBC: Yesterday's performance by the Flyers in their 7-1 loss to Pittsburgh officially replaces "Quarterlife" as the biggest embarrassment to hit the network this season. The bad news for Coach John Stevens is that Philly fans have finally acknowledged the subtle truth that, in fact, he's lost this team during its 0-2-2 stumble this week: "Look in the ****ing mirror you worthless prick." Couple that with being openly mocked by the NBC announcers and having a Bobby Clarke...er, "Paul Holmgren" team dropping like a construction crane on midtown Manhattan, and in Yoda-speak: "Job security not he has." As usual, line of the day by The Pensblog: "Fittingly, after the game, NBC switched to golf." The Beer They'd Be: A can of Bud Select that has grown warm and spoiled, as a concussed Simon Gagne stares at it for 76 consecutive hours.
Rotten To the Corvo. After he traded him to Carolina last month, Ottawa GM Bryan Murray told the media that Joe Corvo requested a move to an American city because - and I'm paraphrasing here - he's a giant pussy who couldn't hack the Canadian scrutiny. So with a hat-trick in yesterday's 5-1 win, and by being a point-per-game defenseman for the Hurricanes since his arrival, Corvo's got scoreboard. Incidentally, I love anything in hockey that frightens the elderly:
Southleast, My Ass. When the Capitals signed Viktor Kozlov in the off-season, I figured it was for two reasons: To give Ovechkin and Semin a Russian play-friend, and because he's batting a career .500 in the skills competition and the Caps were "teh suck" in it last year. Koz iced Washington's 2-1 win over Boston so, hey, money well-spent. ... I really want to be excited about Columbus's win over Detroit yesterday, but seven points behind and with four teams to climb over for a playoff spot, it's over, Johnny. ... Dwayne Roloson pulled himself off the back of a milk carton to make 48 saves and end San Jose's winning streak. Edmonton is now 15-3 when cheap, artificial points in a made-for-TV carnival game are on the line. They're also just five points out of the last playoff spot. Whatever...just keep Brian Burke out of the lottery, boys.
* In honor of St. Patrick's Day, it's the Top 10 Patricks in Hockey History. What, no love for Patrick Sharp or Pat Dapuzzo? Japers Rink]
* Gretzky believes Ovechkin can score 90 goals in a season. "Not 92...I mean, seriously, that's only for once-in-a-lifetime players who get to bang models and star in cartoons with Bo Jackson and shit." National Post]
* I remember the MSG Network being larger than life when I was a kid, especially when they'd run full WWF cards from the Garden on tape-delay. Well, evidently it pretty much sucks now; here's how to fix it. [Scotty Hockey]
* Selling green hockey pucks at the Staples Center is like trying to sell anything without Kobe's name on it to Lakers fans. I'd also like to point out that the name of this blog is what I hope to be at around 4:30 this afternoon at Murphy's in Alexandria, Va. [Greener Than Shrek]
* Finally, here's a glorious youth hockey fight, made all the more glorious by the desperate, NSFW wailing of hockey moms and dads in the crowd. Take a prep hockey game, add in one of the most vulgar and tense screaming matches between Larry David and Susie Essman, and you'll get this: