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 an endorsement in the Hottest Ice Girls election, welcome to The Brewmeister Ratings...
Winner No. 1: Philadelphia Flyers. Sure, they still hold onto a lead late in the game with the buttery sausage fingers of a Jose Mesa. And yeah, Coach John Stevens probably should have been fired by now, if only for keeping Closer favorite Steve Downie in the press box lately.
But while the rest of the League was waiting for them to step aside so Ovechkin could make the playoffs, the Flyers won three in a row last week to move past Boston into seventh place. What kind of a crazy mixed-up world are we living in when Philly fans can no longer justifiably jeer Danny Briere (13 points in 11 games) or Marty Biron, who owns the Islanders more than Charlie Wang? The Beer They'd Be: An ice cold can of Blue that the Easter Bunny slams, dousing his bitterness because he ranks behind Santa, the Tooth Fairy and Hannah Montana on the beloved fictional character scale.
Winner No. 2: San Jose Sharks. The accolades have been piling up for San Jose over the last month: Hottest team in hockey, potential division champion, Home of the Brian Campbell Spin-o-Rama Whopper. I've waited my entire life for someone to refer to me as "Red-hot, healthy and loaded," and all I needed to do was go 13-0-1? During an undefeated week, the Sharks added another superlative: The Team Formally Known As Anaheim's Punching Bag (or the more familiar as T.T.F.K.A.A.P.B.). They beat the Ducks, 2-1, limiting Anaheim to just 13 shots. Gotta love Sharks fans; with Pronger suspended they needed someone new to boo every time he touched the puck, so they're like, "Fuck it: Welcome back, Teeboo Booleanne..." The Beer They'd Be: A glass of Anchor Porter, filled with the smoky goodness and complex flavors that would make a Bud Light lover like Roenick choke on his lager water.
Loser No. 1: Colorado Avalanche. Three defeats — including a 7-5 loss at Edmonton that served as the official launch party for "Operation: Cock-Tease West" — and the Denver media is polling fans on whether they want to see Colorado swept in the first round by Detroit or "get what it deserves right now, which are tee times for local golf clubs the next day after the regular season." And can someone check with IKEA to figure out the return policy on Forsberg? The Beer They'd Be: A can of Coors Light used for skeet shooting by a trust-fund baby in Aspen.
Loser No. 2: New Jersey Devils. When planning a house party, a $200 home karaoke machine with tower speakers and a built-in digital video camera is often viewed as a superfluous luxury item, akin to a vodka ice luge. It's never viewed as a necessity, especially when carrying such a hefty price tag. And then you have that one party where your buddy brings over a smokin' hot blonde, and by the end of the night all she wants to do is gyrate around the room while crooning an Appletini-and SoCo-lime-fueled cover of "I Touch Myself" ... but alas, no karaoke machine, no sexy time. Same principle applies when you're thinking about adding at the trade deadline that one last veteran who can score a momentum-changing goal, but you just won't pay the price. Lou Lamoriello didn't ante up for the $200 home karaoke machine with tower speakers and a built-in digital video camera; and the hot blonde at the top of the conference has turned tail and shacked up with some guy from Montreal. The Beer They'd Be: A Bass Ale that I weep over while listening to Bruce's "Nebraska," wondering when Elias will get healthy.
If the Playoffs Started Today. The East is all shaken up, with a Flyers/Penguins Thunderdome and a Devils/Senators snoozefest potentially in the first round. The Leafs are four out of the eighth seed, and could really throw this thing into chaos with two games against Boston and Montreal, and one game against Ottawa, still on the docket; hopefully, these games give the world more incredible hockey like Saturday's 5-4 Leafs' win over the Sens. I'm sure Toronto would like nothing more than to do this to the rest of the conference:
Ocho To 60. Unsilent covered Ovechkin hitting the big six-oh over the weekend, and there's really nothing more I can add that a picture of him receiving a hockey bukkake doesn't say better. I'd point you to Mirtle's fantastic rundown of Ovechkin's 60-goal season and where it ranks amongst the other 38 times that mark's been reached in the NHL. I can't believe we're all blowing noisemakers on Ovechkin's 60 goals when just 15 years ago five (!) players cleared that bar. Boy, what could have happened in 1993 that's prevented us from ever feeling that kind of thrill in the NHL ever since?
* I think Jarome Iginla has as legitimate a claim to the Hart Trophy as Ovechkin does. But I agree with Jimmy Jazz: Malkin can bugger off. [Tic Tac Toe Hockey]
* If you haven't seen Jarkko Ruutu's soccer-dribble pass that nearly resulted in a goal, it's been named "Reason #2,178 to Love Hockey." Reason #2,179? You guessed it: Wade Belak. [Shakedown Sports]
* It's the college hockey mascots game! Finally, it appears an altar boy has been given a chance to exploit someone else's five-hole for once. [Is Today a Zoo Day?]
* The Rangers/Islanders game at Yankee Stadium was a done deal. And then it wasn't. [Going Five Hole]
* Finally, it's the final day of voting for Puck That Hit's "Who Has the Hottest Ice Girls?" contest, and Chicago's "Ice Crew" appears to have an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates. But I implore you to give Dallas's Ice Girls a reasonable vetting. Yes, there are some members who look like they may have fired the T-shirt cannon while looking through the barrel. But you have to respect any athletic supporters that introduce themselves with a bikini-clad video and let puckheads in the cheapies get a squeeze: