It's that time of year, boys! The start of the season - everything is fresh and new. Every game is life and death, and we're all refreshing the home page every 10 minutes because what else are we going to do? With the Steelhawks and Grunge doing better than expected, even GMs near the top of the standings are constantly looking over their shoulder. Devastating injuries, surprising upsets and poor grammar/vocabulary of the Power Rankings await you in WEEKS 1&2 - 3...2...1...GO!
Hey, remember when the Pre-Season gurus had the Supersonics at number 17? Me either. Like a good goalie, I have a short memory - even shorter when I'm wrong. Mike won the "Cursed Bowl" against Matt's Norsemen today, so gets the proverbial jinx and is our top team this week. No injuries, balanced scoring (12 different players with at least 1 goal and 2 points) and incredible back-up goaltending from Petr Mrazek has helped the Supersonics start with an 8-2 record. Their goal differential, however, isn't quite as robust as some of our other Titans. A sign of things to come, or is Henry just being a jerk?
What the frig? You said Mike won the Cursed Bowl for number 1, so Matt's Norsemen should be number 2. That's it, I'm calling the SICHL Customer Support Line to register a complaint. (Ring...Ring...) Hello! You've reached the SICHL Customer Support Line. If you'd like to register a compliment, press 1. If you'd like to register a complaint, press 2. (2) If you've failed to notice that Barzal is out for the next 46 days, press 1. If you came for anything tangible about the Schooners, press 2. If you'd like to continue complaining about the Norsemen, press 3. (3)
Thank you. We will now put you through to one of our agents, stand by. (Ring...Ring) Hello, Tom Baker speaking. (Tom Baker? No, I wanted to register a complaint. Matt's Norsemen should be 2nd! Or 3rd!) Well, sorry sonny. Matt may be my son, but I'm in 3rd place. I'm the only team that only has 1 regulation loss. I also have the league's best goal differential. Yessir, nothing wrong here, you must have called the wrong number, or gone through the IVR (Interactive Voice Recording) incorrectly. (Hey, didn't you guys lose to the Gladiators twice?) ....(Tom hangs up).
Ok by NOW, surely, we'll get to Matt's Norsemen, right? WRONG-O, buddy boy, we have another team that has completely turned our Pre-Season Power Rankings into a bunch of nonsense gibber-gabber. Phil, one of our new (veteran) GMs, has stormed into the league and is atop the World Conference. Carter Hutton is playing out of his mind in net, spotting a 1.86 GAA in 8 games. He's top 5 in combined power play and penalty kill, although he does take a ton of penalty minutes (3rd most in the league). I wouldn't say it's a fluke just yet, the Grunge has beaten good teams, but it's no guarantees at this point - for ANY team.
FINALLY we get to the Norsemen. Barzal's injury stings, but they've also trounced the Supersonics, defeated the Schooners and haven't lost a game away from home yet. No doubt, Matt will be tinkering with his lineup as any loss is inexcusable to the Norsemen, but I wouldn't tinker too much - with that lineup, would you?
Zero injuries, near the top of the Conference and Connor McDavid hasn't even woken up yet from his long, off season slumber. Wouldn't you love to have a "slump" of 7 points in 9 games and only 2 penalty minutes? Hellebuyck is easily one of the best goalies in the league so far - a 1.75 GAA and a .932 save percentage, unreal! That's the kind of performance that a team needs to go far in the playoffs - Jeff's only goal this year, as far as I'm concerned (and beating Hamburg on day 25).
Pat's team may be a bit top heavy in scoring, but when two of those players are Brad Marchand (21 points in 10 games) and Nicklas Backstrom (ditto), that's one hell of a top and you can likely count on it being consistent throughout the year. He also has SIX different players with at least 1 power play goal. If the goaltending evens out a bit, it won't be long before we see Pat in the Top 5...hell, even the Top 1.
Don't listen to Matt from the Mustangs. He might say he's not good at drafting, or at SICHL in general, but here he is sitting in 8th - 10 spots ahead of where the Pre-Season morons had him just a few weeks ago. Maybe there's something to having TWO Kanes? I wonder how a team with TWO Undertakers would fare?
How about these new teams??? The Grunge smell like teen spirit, and Hamilton thankfully doesn't smell anything like Hamilton's airport. They may not be one of the top teams in combined special teams, but MAN this is a disciplined team - they only have 40 penalty minutes in 9 games, second best only to the Schooners (39 in 10...I probably should have talked about Eric more). Jeff has to be happy with Ryan Suter's play so far - 14 points in 9 games and only 4 penalty minutes. MVP type stuff, nice!
I was wondering when the hell we were going to get to the Golden Bears! Early days, but a little shaky out of the gate. That's hardly Guy's fault - injuries to Ryan O'Reilly, Colton Parayko, Ryan McDonagh and Scott Mayfield (83 DF - gone for 76 more days) would shatter most team's chances, but for the perennial contenders of Acadia, tis merely a scratch. Or a flesh wound. We'll see.
Sam seems to have trouble with only three things - old guys, Vegas and newcomers. In fact, many of the teams he lost to share at least 2 of those factors! I can't put Sam any higher until I see him beat better teams than the Barons, but once again, the Rapids have a killer lineup. I should take notes.
This is where it stars to get tricky. Some teams have only played 8 games, some have played 10. This early on in the year, when everything is compounded, it's difficult to tell the good teams from the bad. Right now, I have 7 teams that are tied with 11 points. Seven. And with Hamilton and Seattle just confusing people more, I look to Norm for advice. Norm told me, "Henry, remember Rule of Acquisition 194 - It's always good business to know about new customers before they walk in your door." Does this mean Norm GUARANTEES victory over Seattle in their upcoming game in Day 21???
Now, look. 5-3-1 is not a bad record. It's hardly grounds to drop a team 11 spots. But Gary, c'mon bb, you know that Pre-Season Rankings to Weeks 1 & 2 (3...2...1...GO!!) are always wacky. BUT no injuries, and losses to the Barons and Aces mean the Colonials have to be punished (temporarily) but only being placed 13th. I would say sorry to Gary, but I'm not!
The defending Champs are RIGHT where they want to be - completely unassuming, in 7th in the World Conference, nobody concerned about them and just this close to missing the playoffs. Frankly, I don't know how Kirk keeps his pulse down - this is a man who loves living on the edge!
If I may invoke Tywin Lannister, "Any man who must say 'I am the king' is no true king. I'll make sure you understand that when I've won your war for you." The Riders are CRUSHING teams on their Power Play, converting at 36.84%, and they're 6th in Goals For, and are among the leaders in shots. Away from home, however, they're 1-03 and are coming off back to back losses. I can't crown the Riders anything but a curiosity at this point.
If I may invoke Lord Varys the Spider..."Special teams are a funny thing.
They reside where men believe they reside. It's a trick, a shadow on the wall. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow. " Doug may not be tall, but he casts an enormous shadow on the league. Oh, and he hasn't given up a single Power Play goal in 9 games. How'd you like that Penalty Kill?
Don's Huskies are underachieving at this point, no doubt about it. We predicted them 4th in the Pre-Season Power Rankings and here they sit, 17th and that's being a little generous. What's to blame? Who does the Mad Scientist of the SICHL have to experiment on to get this team to turn around? Some injuries, sure, but none to his superstars. Nothing really stands out to me - most of his players have at least 1 goal...I suppose William Nylander and Nazem Kadri could stand to get hot (2 points each in 9 games) and Gibson could certainly be better than a 0.901 save percentage. Hard to say!
Middle of the pack teams are so hard to do the power rankings on. They're either good teams doing badly, bad teams doing goodly, or the Sim hasn't given me a big enough sample size to write anything interesting. The Spartans are 5-2, -2 goal differential, most of their players are doing ok...I mean, how do you expect me to work with this kind of material???? If anybody wants me, I'll be in my trailer.
(Knock Knock - Mr. Skey? Yeah, the Power Rankings aren't done yet. Well, I know that there are 3.5% more teams to do, but you're not getting a 3.5% increase in salary. Well you CAN, but 3.5% of 0 is still 0. Yup. Next up is the Aces. Can't Dustin do it? No, Dustin's got his own thing going on. Ratings are really good, he can't make it here. What place...uh....19th. No, I'm serious. Look, would you just come out and tell everybody the ACes are 3-3-3 which is a really weird record? Well, it's the exact same as the Huskies, so how is it not weird? Fine, I'll get the Commissioner on the phone.
Commish? Yeah, it's me. Yeah Henry won't come out of his trailer. I don't know, he's whining about lack of material and creative juices. Yup, gave him some weed - it's legal here now, as you know. Yes, I've told him he's wonderful. Well he's saying that there are more teams now...yes, I know, ONE more team, he's being a big baby. Ok. Ok. I'll try to get him to come out.
Henry? Mark says you're awesome and you only have a few teams left, so you should just come out and do the rankings. OK fine, here I'll slip you a piece of paper, you can just write your notes about the Vipers, Monarchs, Millionaries, Barons, Tigers, Gladiators, Shamrocks, Rockies and Metros down and I'l transcribe. No, you already did the Revolution and you can't put them near the bottom. No! They're one of the best teams! Well don't get mad at me, I don't create reality! Here's a pen. I'll be waiting outside.
(Scribbles down some notes) Man, Michael is bad at being bad. Even when he self proclaims that he's in a rebuild, he's still only a few points out of the playoffs. He definitely has the team to do it, particularly if Bishop gets better support - a 0.927 save percentage is hard to improve upon. Also, give me Havana's 1st overall!
The Millionaires continue their trend of growing in the right direction - Kasim's team is loaded up front, but still lacking the high end defense and goaltending that better teams have. Still, he's one of the few teams that have defeated the Norsemen and is only -1 in goal differential. A dark horse for the playoffs this year?
Now here's a confusing team. The Barons started their season winless, but then have won 3 of their last 4, including wins over the Krunch and Boston. And the Fire Ants BARELY beat them 1-0. So...what's going on in Brno? well, Juuse Saros has some pretty great looking stats - 1.97 GAA and a 0.937 save percentage. That'll help. You know what doesn't help? Joe Thornton being out for a week.
This spot WAS going to be for the Barons, but they've gone on a bit of a mini-tear so we're featuring Sheetal at spot 25 this week. The Tigers are sitting in their usual seat next to me. Could it be that Sheetal and I are just biding our time, before pouncing? Like a...Gladiator and Tiger about to pounce on a victim? Sure, let's go with that.
I somehow have beat the Cougars twice. I don't know. I just don't know.
It would take a genius to get the Shamrocks to the playoffs at this point - the Shamrocks are the worst team in the World Conference, but we all know how active a GM Ryan is. Who knows what deals he makes between now and the playoff deadline?
Ian is right where he started off last year - badly, and will continue to be so throughout the year as part of his rebuild plan. And how envious I am of THAT plan, since it includes THREE 1st round picks next year, and FOUR third picks. Must be nice, Ian!
Toronto, despite not having the worst roster in the league, hasn't had much luck this year. However, they did beat (and outshoot) the Golden Bears in their only win, so they might just be shaking off some rust. Perhaps a trip to Toronto Island to visit with the Commish and sail around will turn things around?