Meaning, I can determine who the STRONGEST is, the NOT SO STRONGEST, THE MODERATELY STRONG, and the overall STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE. I'll try to incorporate that into the rankings, as well as mention in each write up what kind of competition teams have beat (or lost to) in the last 14 days that are noteworthy. I can't go through EVERYBODY's games against EVERYBODY though, so don't get any fancy ideas. After all, there's Kingdom Hearts 3 to be played! Let's go! (AND DON'T FORGET THAT STRENGTH LIES IN THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP...AND HEARTS!)
It's been a slow and steady climb for the Riders (I had them 15th in Weeks 1 and 2) but here they are, their first number 1 spot of the year and possibly ever? I don't know, I'm no Power Rankings historian or anything. Regardless, there's no doubt the Riders were the best team in the league in Weeks 9 and 10. They went 8-0-1 and were a staggering PLUS 27 in goal differential, and are now within 1 point of the league-leading Norsemen. Outstanding. Nice to see a World Conference Team at the top. They also haven't lost in regulation in nearly three weeks. Oh, and keeping in tune with our theme of the Rankings, The Riders recently beat the Grunge, Schooners and Norsemen. How's that for strength of schedule?
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, did the Spartans rebound from their drop from a few weeks ago. They've since gone 6-1-2, obtaining the 2nd most points in the league during that stretch, only trailing the Riders in this regard. They're now also tied for 2nd in the league, 1 point back of the Norsemen. Pretty shocking, I know, I hope Sean's pleased. I know Matt, despite him being first in a league of hockey and internet nerds who do nothing but research hockey, is not pleased. High expectations, and all that. I was even tempted to put the Spartans higher - they've only had 1 regulation loss in 24 days. Their most impressive win was a 5-1 clobbering of the Riders, but curiously they've also surrendered overtime losses to the Shamrocks, and the Barons. But hey, we all make mistakes...except Anze Kopitar, who is now leading the league in Points. Everything is coming up Spartans!
Man, the next six rankings were a doozy. For starters, I felt bad that I didn't really include a lot of the Spartans' SOS (strength of schedule, work with me here), but I felt like I sang enough of their praises. I also broke my own rule by placing them TEN spots. That's too much for a team to jump - BUT, the rest of the sinister six (Golden Bears, Norsemen, Revolution, Schooners, Slammers and Rapids) either are decimated by injuries, didn't have as strong a schedule, don't have Anze Kopitar or weren't as good. So, forgive me - this is going to get ugly and weird. Guy's Golden Bears, in the meantime, went a sublime 6-1-1 and had a 3rd best goal differential in that time of plus 13. So, who faced their wrath this week? Well, he beat up on bottom feeders and competitors alike - Express, Krunch, Rockies, Supersonics all fell to Guy's squad, but his statement game was a 4-0 shutout win over the Slammers. Oh, and if you forgot that the Riders were the talk of the town, they annihilated the Bears 7-0 on day 55. In Acadia. It should be noted that injures have ravaged the Bears almost as much as the Schooners or Huskies; Giroux, Couturier are both out for at least another few weeks. Still, I gotta give them their due, although you could argue jumping 4 spots is part reputation. OF BEING STRONG.
Matt, the top team in the league, went a pedestrian 5-3-1 but, to be honest, I still have no idea where I should place him. He's relatively healthy compared to some other decimated lineups, but he's on a 4 game losing streak, including losses to the Express and the Rockies. Yes, those Rockies, so Matt has to suffer a small amount. BUT he also beat the Revolution and Rapids recently, so I don't think they're going to sink much lower.
Jeff also has gone 6-1-1, just like the Golden Bears and Rapids. It's pretty ridiculous, how am I supposed to separate all these juggernauts? Well, anytime I hesitate to put Jeff any higher, I listen to myself and hesitate. That's just our kind of relationship. Oh boo hoo, Jeff, you only jumped 4 spots and are one of the best teams in the league. BUT I can say that their strength of schedule held them back a bit, otherwise I would've put them higher. They won a lot, sure but here's a list of their most recent wins; Torono, London, Hamilton, Brno, Philadelphia (twice), Las Vegas and Seattle (twice), who are in a slump. They lost to their only real competition (Norsemen and Boston). Still, their record is impressive and so in the top 5 they go. BUT if you were debate how STRONG the Revolution were, I'd entertain discerning opinions.
This is dumb. Pat went 5-2-1 in his last 11 and he goes down 2 places. I promise you, I've moved the Sinister Six so many times that I'm starting to get carpal tunnel so Pat will remain at number 6. Another reason - Marchand is out for another week or so. Another reason part 2 - his wins were against some weaker teams (Vipers, Mustangs, Tigers) and his only regulation losses were against the big boys (Schooners, Golden Bears). Pat, with the addition of Rinne, is definitely all-in this season and can sit with the top dogs. A massive test on Days 70 and 73 when he hosts the Golden Bears and Schooners in a REVENGE HOME SERIES.
See this is dumb. Sam's Rapids went 6-1-1, beat Acadia 5-4 in Acadia, had the second best goal differential (plus 19) and he only goes up one spot? Sam should be number 2 or 3 or something. He clearly was beating good teams too, including a MASSIVE Overtime win over the Riders. Ruh roh. Henry's rankings are NOT AS STRONG AS THEY SHOULD BE. Ug, my apologies guys. Let's just say the Riders are not quite as good as I said (though still number 1) and the Rapids DEFINITELY should be, like, number 3 or 4. Use your imagination. Sorry, Sam! (You're probably wondering why I don't just PUT the Rapids at 2 or 3. Well, this is the inherent challenge of the rankings - it's not a zero sum game. If I move the Rapids even one spot, I have to re-write many of the other write-ups I've already done. It's 12:23am and I want to go to bed before 3am tonight so once again, I beg your forgiveness). As I'm looking for some last minute excuse, let's just point out the fact that Sam lost to the Tigers at home in their most recent game. What a bunch of jerks! I should've put them even lower (phew, good save HSkey)
Eric, this is what you get when you say I jinxed you. Well, not only did I jinx you, now I'm anti-jinxing you and I bet you're STILL going to curse my name and hate me for dropping you seven spots. Well, hard cheese - your team went 4-4 BUT, most importantly, you currently have maybe the single worst set of injures I've ever seen - and I'M THE GUY WHO HAD SO MANY INJURIES ONCE, I BROKE THE SIM. The current players that are out for the Schooners are: Toews, Josi, Versteeg, Wayne Simmonds and John Tavares. Eric's all-injury team would likely be a starting 5 for most other teams. Until they get healthy, they are staying put! (In the rankings, I mean, I don't have any power over the Sim...yet)
Hehe, it's so weird to have Kasim and Eric right next to each other in the standings. I can guarantee you that's never happened before. To my delight, Kasim CONTINUES his outrageous hot strek and went 5-1-2 in his last 8 games and currently holds the FIFTH playoff spot in the Canadian Conference. Absolutely unbelievable. Aside from a couple of hiccup losses to the Tigers and Rockies at home, they've beaten some solid teams including Whitehorse, Nova Scotia and St. Louis. I...guys, I don't think this is a fluke anymore. OR MAYBE KASIM ISN'T AS STRONG AS WE ALL (NEVER) THOUGHT!
I'm sorry, but I'm going to lay on the proverbial jinx on how strong the Krunch are right now - they have ZERO injuries. ZERO. Forget strength of schedule, many GMs would trade DOWN their placement in the standings if it meant their team was filled with some kind of bull-DNA infused SUPERMEN like the lads from Kansas City are. Kirk laid down a nice 5 game winning streak, including beating the Spartans, but aside from that, they haven't beat another contender since the Revolution on day 33 so I'll need to see them do better against tougher competition before I can commit the reigning champs past number 10, which is still pretty good. Also - Kirk lost to his brother on Day 53, which tickled my funny bone. Because the Express are awful - almost as bad as me! (hey, ever since Mark defeated me in the finals and "Expressed" a pitifully sarcastic "sorry Henry" upon the reveal of game 5, I've had it in for him).
Seattle, go home, you're drunk. You think I like dropping you 6 spots? Well, it's not my fault. HOLY COW - BREAKING NEWS, I didn't even realize the Spartans have lost Bergeron for a week. See, these Power Rankings are ridiculous. I need a team of 5 unpaid interns to keep up with all the news. My apologies for the Breaking News, now back to the Grunge - they've had their share of injuries also, and it's been showing lately. They went a paltry 3-5-1 in their last 9 games and they've only been beating up poor Sheetal and Tom - who is on a one way track in the wrong direction. Seattle is our league's most intriguing team this year, I really can't say with any confidence on how STRONG a team they are just yet.
Ok, this is super weird. I went to the Victoria Royals game last night with my buddy Dave Vallance and his wife Alisha. They got us FREE TICKETS IN A SUITE and I LOVE WATCHING GAMES IN A SUITE. We had two bottles of Red Wine and I had a chicken sandwich to boot. And we didn't have to mingle with the riff-raff. Anyway, they also mentioned they're seeing the Arkells tomorrow in the very same suite, and I swear I've never heard of them and then BOOM, my playlist pops up the Arkells - Come to Light as I'm writing up Tom's section. What, you may ask, does this have anything to do with the Cougars? Well, nothing, but it's a better story than the Cougars currently, trust me. (Don't worry, Tom got revenge on this post by beating me 8-0).
Show of hands - who thought Gary, after making all those deals, would improve greatly? Put them down, you liars. The Colonials improve to spot 13 and are currently on a 5 game win streak. They also were one of two teams to not have a single loss in regulation, along with the Riders, and a stellar plus 12 goal differential. My goodness, what gives? Who is responsible for the Colonials colonizing them? Well, a mixed bag, but when you beat the Revolution AND the Norsemen in the same week, you're doing something right. The only loss they had was a close one to the Schooners. If Gary keeps this up, I'll have an even harder time rating all these teams. STOP BEING GOOD, GARY.
Oh, big bloody surprise, Doug has pulled himself out of the hole and has gone 6-2 in his last 8 games. Whoopity freakin' doo. You know, it would be a lot easier if we just had GOOD teams and BAD teams, so my job is easier, but nooooo, Doug has to go and be interesting, forcing me to change up my rankings like crazy. Well, Doug, you got your wish - you even beat some solid teams in the Slammers and the Krunch. Not weak at all.
I apologize for sounding super snarky. Usually I do the rankings Sunday morning, with a cup of tea. Now it's Saturday night, I'm fresh off a disappointing episode of Star Trek: Discovery, a disappointing episode of Brooklyn-Nine-Nine (Gina is the worst, but Chelsea Peretti is great) and a moderately disappointing episode of Schitt's Creek. SO, I had to play a few hours of Kingdom Hearts 3 to cleanse my palette and MAN I do not understand the story at all. The last time I played a Kingdom Hearts game, it was Kingdom Hearts 2 in 2004 and there have been approximately 141 Kingdom Hearts games since then, all with incomprehensibly stupid titles like Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, etc and I'm pretty sure I'm slowly going crazy. There's no proper transition here either, Hamilton would not belong in a Kingdom Hearts game (OR MAYBE IT WOULD, WHAT THE HELL DO I KNOW???) and they beat up on the poor Hamburglars twice, along with the Aces, Barons and Huskies before losing to the Golden Bears. Even putting them 2 spots up from last week seems generous, but the middle of the pack is MODERATELY STRONG ONLY so we'll all have to live with it.
I tell ya, this job ain't easy. There were SEVEN teams that went 4 wins and 4 losses in their last 8 games, the Aces being one of them. I thought adding in a variable like strength of schedule would make things easier, but it's just ANOTHER variable to consider. It's enough to make my head spin. Dustin's Aces remain in the playoff hunt, and with the Cougars spiraling out of control, they're only 4 points back from 8th place. Dustin defeated Edmonton, Toronto, Banff and the aforementioned Cougars, but lost to some good teams in St. Louis, Havana and Boston. FINAL NOTE - I was listening to the Jay and Dan podcast when DUSTIN came on to talk about the Oilers. Look, I know this is Dustin's job and all, but it's the first time I've ever heard somebody I know talk on a podcast and not just ANY podcast - one of my favorites. I marked out on my walk to work - thanks for the great job, Dustin! SO COOL!!!!
Mike also went 4-4 and hasn't been able to reach the great heights that week 1 and 2 brought yet. This is the man who inspired this week's rankings, so you'd THINK they would've done ol' HSKEY a solid by performing very well and instead they performed....fine? I guess? They beat the Huskies, Cougars and Rockies, but lost to the Slammers, Golden Bears and Aces so it's a...ah, I dunno. Good? I mean they're in the playoffs, but Don's injuried Huskies are only 1 point behind. Hopefully Mike feels STRENGTH flowing within him to take that final playoff spot away from the Mad Scientist of the SICHL.
Speaking of the Mad Scientist, Don, did you not have your experimental subjects sign a waiver? Did you put blindfolds on them and make them walk into a room with broken glass, thumbtacks and boards with nails in it? Kadri and Trocheck are both out for another week, but beyond injuries, the Huskies have had a bit of a tumble and went 2-3-3 in their last 8 games, with a goal differential of minus 10 (barf). They lost to Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver and that's not a trio to be taken heavily at all. Huskies have got to turn this around. Hell, their only two wins in the last 12 days were against ME (which probably shouldn't count) and the Monarchs (Michael also probably agrees this shouldn't count).
Ok, that dig at Michael wasn't very nice, so I have rewarded/apologized to him by placing him 19th, up two spots from last week. Hey, that's exciting! The Monarchs defeated the Barons, the Shamrocks and the Fire Ants. Hmm, that's not so exciting, although he did manage a 4-2 win over the Schooners...but who didn't this week, am I right? (Anticipates angry texts from Eric).
Let's see what my trading buddy Matt is up to. Huh, well they're 8 points out of a playoff spot. And I'm so tired, I just spelled "of" as "ouf" four times before I got it right, so I'd say the Mustangs are doing better than the GM of the Gladiators. At least the mustangs have beaten the (checks notes) the Shamrocks, Gladiators, Metros and Huskies before losing a close game to the Schooners. Alright, well that sounds like progress...doesn't it? No seriously, I can't tell, Matt please tell me in the comments! (Burch, not MacInnis, but I do welcome comments from ALL).
How STRONG were the Vipers, you may ask? Well, they were....strongish! They were one of the 413 teams that went 4-4 with a positive goal differential. That's nice, it makes me smile. The Vipers are able to beat some OK teams (Huskies, Cougars) but also lost to the Shamrocks and Fire Ants. Hmm. It seems the Viper bites something, is super pleased with itself and then misses the tourist that steps on its tail while it's gloating about a victory.
Check out the wins for Toronto! The Metros went a respectable 4-5 and were able to beat the Grunge and Wheat Kings in that stretch. Nicely done! When they lose, they tend to keep it close - including a 5-3 loss to the Supersonics, a 2-1 loss to the Revolution and a 3-2 loss to the Norsemen. There may be potential, here!
Poor Sheetal. Do you think I like putting the Tigers near the basement week after week? Well, I don't. Let's try and look for some positives here - the Tigers went 3-4-2 in their last 98 games, with a minus 5 goal differential. Well that's nothing to be ashamed of. If you want to see a shameful team, just look at the Gladiators! Aside from the six game losing streak...and the three game losing streak, the Tigers didn't do too badly. No, I'm serious, come back! They're on a 2 game win streak and beat, I hope you're ready for this, the Rapids and the suddenly good Millionaires. I know, it's crazy! I'm on team Tiger from here on out. GO TIGERS.
Ok Norm, you can come out now. Where are the real Fire Ants? They went 3-6 in their last 9 games (side note - Sounds of Silence just came on my playlist, and I can't think of a more apt song for the Fire Ants at the moment other than, naturally, the theme for Star Trek: DS9). Not a ton of strong to be said of here, with their most recent wins only coming against the Vipers and Barons. But don't feel bad for Norm - he doesn't!
Mark, you went 4-4. How are you supposed to be a bottom feeding team if you win half your games? We really have to teach you how to be less STRONG next week. Call me, we'll talk. Mark's Express are on a 3 game win streak, including wins over the Schooners and Norsemen? The hell? Ok, maybe I should have put them higher than 1 spot. That's on me, bud, apologies. Everybody comment on how great Mark is so he doesn't punish me in the Sim even moreso....and so he gives me good odds in the next DRAFT LOTTERY :D
The Rockies continue to make moves, acquisitions from trades and climb the rankings. Well, ok, they didn't climb this week, but they should have. They went 3-4-2 with a not-so-bad minus 6 goal differential. They've obviously distanced themselves from the Shamrocks, Barons and Gladiators of late by beating Montreal, Vancouver Island and the Express as of late. They're likely not going to make the playoffs, but they're not a pushover either. Strength can come in many forms, you know!
Ryan's Shamrocks turned a lot of heads when they beat the Spartans 5-4 on day 60. That's a massive upset, although I doubt it has any long term ramifications. They're not making the playoffs this year, Ryan will be the first to tell you that, but I wouldn't necessarily start your 3rd string goalie against them and feel comfortable.
The Gladiators are so weak, if they were a gun, they'd be the Klobb.
I'm not even going to look at the Barons' strength of schedule. They lost every single game, and failed to register a single point. Even I managed 2 overtime losses! The injuries to Mathew (that single T drives me crazy) Dumba and Kyle Brodziak definitely didn't help, but I can't put the Barons any higher than dead lost. Sorry Bob!