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Thursday, March 3, 2011

ESPN Power Rankings - The '94 Parade Remix

ESPN – The Roman Empire of sports media. They own sports like America owns the moon. They crammed their flag into the fabric of athletics first, and despite their humble beginnings have managed to become kings amongst reporters and writers. Hockey fans may know them by a different name, “Pure Evil”.

Hey, sure, I get it. They dropped the TV contract and let hockey fade into lockout oblivion. They refuse to broadcast it on SportsCenter now that games are played on Versus. But you know they still love it. Hockey plays populate the daily Top 10 because hockey is the single best and most demanding sport on the planet, and the highlights prove that.

They also created the Power Rankings. Every Monday the geniuses (sense the sarcasm?) over in the hockey department at ESPN throw out their NHL Power Rankings and help me waste a good 5 minutes of my work day. Did you see this last week’s edition? No need to go anywhere, I’ve copied the exact article and reposted it below. Beware, Scott Burnside gets a little edgy…

Rank (Last Week)

1 (2) – Philadelphia Flyers
The beast of the east became a very deep team with the acquisition of Kris Versteeg a couple weeks ago, so it wasn’t surprising to see them doing little at the deadline. I’m told the most work GM Paul Holmgren put in was when he called Glen Sather and begged him to take back Zherdev, even if it meant getting absolutely nothing in return. Sather was quoted as saying, “I may be stupid, but I’m not Darryl Sutter stupid”.

2 (1) – Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks look poised and ready to take the President’s Trophy for the first time since they started giving it out. And that’s nice for the Vancouver fans, because let’s face it. We all know they’re not winning the Stanley Cup. I mean, they’re from Canada! That would just be absurd.

3 (3) – Detroit Red Wings
The one NHL team most closely related to alien rock god Charlie Sheen is the Detroit Red Wings. Why, you ask? Winning! It’s what hockeytown does 7 out of every 10 times they hit the ice. They’re the west conference’s most legit contender because, as I said, we all know that somehow Vancouver just won’t pull it off.

4 (4) – San Jose Sharks
The Sharks have been eating up the competition as of late (see why they pay me the big bucks?) going 12 and 2 over their last 14 games. Hey Sharks, no one gives a rat’s ass! Regular season 7 game winning streaks are never going to prove that you can succeed deep into the playoffs, and that’s a scientific fact.

5 (8) – Boston Bruins
A perfect six and oh on their western conference road trip almost makes you forget that this team blew a three game lead in a seven game series only one year ago. Almost…

6 (10) – Los Angeles Kings
After a streaky season, the Kings are finally starting to heat up at the right time. They were out to get Brad Richards but instead landed Dustin Penner. That’s like asking for hockey tickets on your birthday and getting hooked up with AHL seats. Just because Wade Redden and Michael Del Zotto are on the ice does not mean it’s a Ranger game, you know what I’m saying?

7 (9) – Tampa Bay Lightning
Finally done with their crazy long home stand, the Lightning have taken their show on the road and are winning in fine form. Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos are like hydrogen and oxygen – most useful when working together. Add a double dose of St. Louis, because he’s really short you know.

8 (5) – Phoenix Coyotes
The Coyotes have taken a few wrong turns since their eight game winning streak, but it doesn’t matter because nobody is watching, still. I’ll tell you where the wrong turn was, putting a franchise is Phoenix to begin with. I mean doesn’t it feel like sport on city rape at this point? No means no, NHL, the fans (or lack thereof) have spoken (or not as the case may be).

9 (16) – Chicago Blackhawks
The defending champs are finally starting to play hockey like aspiring champs. The playoffs aren't assured yet, but that hasn’t stopped Patrick Kane from making party related headlines yet again. Save the spirits for the summer Kaner, or suffer the fate of an early one.

10 (13) – Pittsburgh Penguins
With all of the injuries they’ve suffered, GM Ray Shero has decided to follow an interesting path. Replacing all of the Penguins with players from the AHL and then bringing back Kovalev just for the fan nostalgia? If they suck on the ice, at least they’ll still sell tickets in Super Cindy’s absence.

11 (11) – Washington Capitals
Everyone still believes that this team can win the Stanley Cup, but getting whipped by the Rangers 7-0 isn’t helping to make their case. I mean, it’s the Rangers for Gretzky’s sake! They couldn’t score on an empty net if it sat right on their face.

12 (12) – Minnesota Wild
They win one, they lose one. They’re in the playoffs, they’re out of the playoffs. Living through a Minnesota winter is crappy enough, but what this team is doing to its fans is borderline torture.

13 (17) – Montreal Canadians
This team is evening out and solidifying their playoff spot, despite being banged up and inconsistent as of late. If this team gets hot going into the post season, you can bet your sweet ass we’ll be seeing some rioting. Don’t park your cars in the Montreal streets during the month of April, nothing is safe.

14 (20) – New York Rangers
Maybe they really liked finishing in 9th place last year, I don’t know. How else can you explain their apparent desire to get back down there ASAP. Unless these guys step up soon AND get lucky with some Sabre losses, odds aren’t good that they finish in the top 8. I’m not going to bet on it, though. Nothing against the situation, I just don’t want to revisit that whole “gambling addiction” thing with my mom again.

15 (19) – Dallas Stars
Brad Richards stays but does that mean a playoff birth is in store for the Stars? Seriously, I couldn’t care less. Can’t you tell that I’m phoning it in like a professor on tenure? I heard that Jerry Jones looks at the ownership issues in Dallas when he wants a good laugh.

16 (7) – Calgary Flames
Fire the GM, turn around season, reform attitude and establish character. This whole team is just one big ball of comeback cliché and frankly, it’s making me sick.

17 (15) – Nashville Predators
They're fighting for a playoff spot and right on the bubble, but nothing ever comes easy for the Nashville Predators, except for Carrie Underwood tickets. They got a guy for that now.

18 (18) – Columbus Blue Jackets
The Jackets added RJ Umberger at the deadline to add some experience to their roster. Oh look, the cute little bumble bee franchise is trying to make a playoff push. That is SO adorable!

19 (6) – New Jersey Devils
Too little, too late for this group of ex-punchlines. At least they avoided the possibility of getting that first overall pick. Too much pressure!

20 (14) – Anaheim Ducks
This team needs an emotional boost to keep their fight for a playoff spot alive. An inspirational speech from coach Gordon Bombay should do the trick. What’s that? Gordon Bombay is a fictional character? And here I was thinking that those were documentaries. Wow, do I feel stupid.

21 (21) – Buffalo Sabres
If Ryan Miller keeps up his godliness in goal, they may want to think about just giving him a gold medal anyways. Wouldn't that be nice of Steve Yzerman if he sent Ryan his medal with a note that said, "Here, you deserve it. I have an extra one at home. Plus they keep replaying that shot of you getting the silver, and it's worse than those ASPCA commercials with the Sarah McLachlan songs. I can't take it anymore."

22 (23) – Carolina Hurricanes
Eric Staal goes out with a concussion soon after getting away with a high hit on his younger brother Marc. Karma reveals itself to be quite a bitch once again, it seems.

23 (27) – Toronto Maple Leafs
They were the impossible dark horse for one hot minute but left crucial points on the table in their last couple games. Just enough effort to get the Toronto faithful's hopes up and then you tank it per usual, eh boys? Just keep on twisting the knife, why don't you.

24 (22) – St. Louis Blues
Darwin was right, and the western conference playoff race is proof. It's survival of the fittest at this point, and St. Louis recently went the way of the Dodo.

25 (26) – Florida Panthers
The Panthers have given up on this season, evidenced by their calling up of Hugh Jessimen. Ranger fans will remember this guy as the giant bust of the 2003 first round draft who never even dressed for the team. Every other guy drafted in that first round has made a significant impact at the NHL level, and this guy is just getting his first game. Weakest sauce of the bunch.

26 (25) – Atlanta Thrashers
Has anyone asked these players what they'd think about a move to Winnipeg? Judging by the turnout at Thrashers games recently, I'd say that panic mode is imminent for their ownership.

27 (24) – New York Islanders
Cue the 4th consecutive season where everyone comments on how this team is very close to maturing its young talent. Cue the 4th consecutive season where they'll be finishing in the bottom 5 of the league.

28 (28) – Ottawa Senators
Yard sale, baby! “Hey, how much Chris Phillips?” “Oh him, sorry he’s not for sale. I’m not sure how he got out here, my mistake. Did you see Jarkko Ruutu, though? I can go as low as 2 dollars on this one.”

29 (29) – Edmonton Oilers
Trust me. Eventually, all these Oiler young guns are going to mature and flourish in the NHL. The bad part is that they’ll all be playing for different teams when it happens. I’m told that when Chris Pronger left Edmonton, he salted the earth so that nothing else may grow there.

30 (30) – Colorado Avalanche
For teams like Edmonton and the Islanders, being bad kind of comes naturally. For the Colorado Avalanche, it took a lot of practice to suck this much.

There you have it ladies and gentlemen. ESPN Power Rankings brought you to by ’94 Parade. In the hope that you and the Rangers have a good day today, I leave you with this haiku entitled, “I Am Getting More and More Insane with Every Ranger Loss”.

Please beat the Wild
Or there will be a high chance
Of public damage.