NHL Power Rankings: Ranking Each NHL Team as an Eminem Song
Upon entering the 2011-2012 season, everyone who's anyone can feel the excitement. Huge offseason moves, an NBA lockout, the reintroduction of the Winnipeg Jets and every team's Stanley Cup aspirations are all factors in what is poised to be another fantastic year for the National Hockey League.
The following is a comprehensive ranking of every NHL team, with one twist: each team is represented with a song by musical giant, Eminem. This list was a ton of fun to brainstorm and create, so I hope you enjoy my work.
As usual, comments and suggestions are welcome and encouraged.
You can follow me on twitter @jlessick12 for NHL news and opinion.
30. Ottawa Senators: Despicable
The first word that comes to mind when thinking of the Ottawa Senators is “ brutal.” This organization is one enormous question mark from the top down. A lot of young players will need to pan out in a big way in order for this bottom-dwelling organization to return to Stanley Cup contention.
29. Winnipeg Jets: I'm Back
They’re back. The Jets franchise left Winnipeg after the 1995-1996 season to pursue greener pastures through a bigger market in Phoenix, Arizona. However, after the Atlanta Thrashers experiment failed financially, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was forced to move the franchise. Lo and behold, after a Winnipeg city-wide lobbying movement to bring back the Jets, commissioner Bettman answered the calls in Manitoba and reinstated the franchise.
28. Columbus Blue Jackets: Beautiful
Columbus is constantly attacked for not being a traditional hockey town. However, the fans love their team and do their best to ignore outside criticism. Key offseason acquisitions of sniper Jeff Carter and defenseman James Wisniewski will definitely help the Blue Jackets on their quest to reach the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.
27. New York Islanders: Just Lose It
It’s been a long time since the Islanders were a serious threat to compete for Lord Stanley’s cup. After years of “rebuilding,” the Islanders faithful must be ready to lose their minds waiting for a contender to emerge on Long Island. The Islanders brass is finally starting to draft and develop quality youngsters. There are still holes in the lineup, specifically at goaltender, but overall, the Islanders are definitely moving in the right direction.
26. Phoenix Coyotes: Mockingbird
Yikes. Phoenix is beginning to look like the next NHL franchise grave site. The organization lost their best player in stud net minder Ilya Bryzgalov to the Philadelphia Flyers during the summer of 2011. Coupled with that loss are the ever-dwindling attendance stats at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Unfortunately, Phoenix is simply unable to support its hockey team.
25. Carolina Hurricanes: Talkin' to Myself
The Hurricanes only have two legitimate scoring threats in forwards Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner. The lack of scoring talent leaves All-Star goalie Cam Ward hung out to dry in most contests. His services are so vital to Carolina that in the 2010-2011 season, no goalie in the NHL played in more games. He is a proverbial one-man army, a lone soldier whose only job, a job he excels at, is to stop the puck.
24. Calgary Flames: I Need a Doctor
A sad story is brewing in Calgary this year. With aging franchise players in forward Jarome Iginla and goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff, it appears to be the end of an era for the Flames. After failing to make the playoffs last year, and the lack of promising youth in the organization, it would take a very talented physician to change the current bleak prognosis of this organization.
23. Florida Panthers: Rock Bottom
It doesn’t get much worse for a franchise than when it hasn’t made the postseason in over a decade. Simply put, the Panthers hit rock bottom following the 2010-2011 season which is why it came as no surprise to anyone following the NHL that the Panthers overhauled their roster. The Panthers went on a spending spree to get to the cap floor by signing players such as former Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky and Kris Versteeg. It will be interesting to see whether the Panthers can find a way to put together a decent season for an ever-shrinking fanbase.
22. Minnesota Wild: It Was Just a Dream
During the offseason, the Wild traded away up and coming defenseman Brent Burns as well as talented forward Martin Havlat to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for forwards Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. The hope is that the big offensive acquisitions will help an anemic offense to produce, thus propelling the Wild back into the playoffs. However, the Wild still appear to be lacking the pieces needed to be considered a true playoff threat, especially if the change of scenery is futile in changing the course of Heatley’s quickly declining career.
Unfortunately for this franchise and its fantastic fanbase, legitimate playoff contention this year is little more than a dream.
21. Colorado Avalanche: Difficult
“Difficult as it sounds," this will be a long year for the still very young Avalanche. With rising stars in forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, along with bona fide offensive threats Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk, capped off by promising young goaltender, Semyon Varlamov, Colorado will definitely be ready for playoff contention in the near future. However, the team is too inexperienced and still lacks the necessary defensive pieces to be considered a playoff threat this season.
20. Edmonton Oilers: Going Through Changes
The Oilers are going through changes. The young talent on this squad is undeniable, headlined by marquee prospects and back-to-back first overall NHL Draft selections Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. In the near future, this duo could be the most dangerous tandem since the days of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the 1990s. But, as of now, this team is far too young, with far too many question marks throughout the defense and goaltending to contend for a playoff spot.
19. St. Louis Blues: Lighters
The Blues were a tough team to choose a song for. It may be due to their lack of a real team identity, but at any rate, the Blues are definitely looking to return to the playoffs after failing to qualify last season. The Blues faithful have a lot to be excited for in the young, developing talent throughout the lineup. There is no reason to think that, barring injuries, the Blues won’t be right back in playoff contention this season.
18. New York Rangers: 'Till I Collapse
The Rangers are a blue-collar, hardworking, nose to the grindstone type of team. They win because they’re physical and play hard until the final buzzer sounds each and every game. This old-fashioned mentality is epitomized in captain Ryan Callahan, who loves nothing more than to sacrifice his physical well-being for the good of his organization and teammates.
17. Montreal Canadiens: A Drop in the Ocean
Canadiens faithful have withstood the test of time when it comes to their dedication as fans. No fan base better supports its team than the one in Montreal, even and especially when the team is not performing well. Hockey is a religion in Montreal, and the utmost passion that Canadiens fans profess game in and game out displays a bond between fan and team that is unrivaled by any other organization in the NHL.
16. New Jersey Devils: Like Toy Soldiers
Big things were expected of the New Jersey Devils last year, and they failed to live up to the hefty expectations. Franchise player Zach Parise went down with a torn meniscus just 12 games into the season, while All-Star sniper Ilya Kovalchuk and Hall of Fame net minder Martin Brodeur struggled mightily, as the Devils missed the postseason for the first time in 14 years. With a new coach, a predominantly healthy lineup and a youth movement, the Devils look to shake off last year’s debacle and rise from the depths back to prominence.
15. Dallas Stars: Take from Me
The Stars lost, unarguably, their best player to free agency last offseason in Brad Richards. With the departure of Richards, Dallas is out to prove that they will be even more productive and make the playoffs this year, despite the doubt of fans and analysts alike. The Stars will look to young guns Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn, along with veteran playmaker Mike Ribeiro, to facilitate most of the scoring, but proving that the loss of Richards will not hinder Dallas’ scoring ability should prove difficult.
14. Anaheim Ducks: Drop the Bomb on 'em
The Ducks feature the best line in hockey in Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan. This line provides so much firepower, flash and offense that comparing the effect that they have on opposing teams to a bomb seems rather accurate. By the time they leave the ice, the opposition is almost always worn down and waving the white flag of surrender.
13. Toronto Maple Leafs: Sing for the Moment
Leafs fans have a lot to look forward to with a young, promising group of players across the board. Youngster James Reimer looks like a legitimate starter early in the 2011-2012 season, while sniper Phil Kessel has gotten off to a blazing start as well. Toronto may very well qualify for the playoffs this year, but is still developing into a true cup contender at this point.
12. Tampa Bay Lightning: Cinderella Man
Two seasons ago, the Lightning were a bottom-dweller of the Eastern Conference. Oh, what a difference a year can make, as the Lightning made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals just a year after they missed the playoffs for the third straight season. If that’s not the epitome of a Cinderella story, I’ll need to re-watch a certain Disney classic.
11. Washington Capitals: Love the Way You Lie
It seems like every year the Washington Capitals are a favorite to hoist Lord Stanley’s cup come season’s end. It also seems that each and every time the Capitals are picked to win it all, they dominate the regular season, but falter and choke in the postseason. The Capitals are the perfect example of an organization that raises its fans' expectations, only to crush them when all the cards are on the table and the season is on the line.
10. Boston Bruins: Where I'm at
As the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Bruins are the envy of the hockey world. They are where everyone else wants to be. Every team that the Bruins face will be gunning for them, hoping against hope that they can upset the champs. Until proven otherwise, the Bruins are the cream of the crop.
9. Los Angeles Kings: Seduction
The Kings are certainly gaining their share of bandwagon fans this year, and why not? They’re young, flashy and a quality organization that has been steadily rebuilding over the years through the draft and key trade acquisitions. All of these aspects have and will continue to attract casual hockey fans of Southern California to support the L.A. Kings.
Led by superstar forward Anze Kopitar and franchise defenseman Drew Doughty, combined with two up-and-coming goaltenders in the Jonathans, Quick and Bernier, the Kings are a popular pick to go far this year and officially make the leap to elite status in the Western Conference.
8. Vancouver Canucks: Almost Famous
The Canucks have been pushing for Lord Stanley’s cup for a few years now, but have yet to win it all. Each year, one thing or another foiled them, whether it was the 2010 Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Toews, or the shaky goaltending of Roberto Luongo in 2011. The phrase “close, but no cigar” has taken on much stronger meaning for the Vancouver faithful, as they hope and believe that 2011-2012 will be their year. You have to assume that this club, from GM Mike Gillis down to the game-day scratches, is burning to finally get over the hill and “just wanna be famous.”
7. Chicago Blackhawks: Lose Yourself
Battered by injuries to key players during the 2010-2011 season, the Blackhawks were ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Canucks, denying them the opportunity to defend their title as Stanley Cup champions. What better song to describe a team led by Jonathan “captain serious” Toews than the focused, intensity-riddled lyrics of “Lose Yourself?" The Blackhawks must be willing to bear down and overcome injuries if they want to fulfill their potential once again by winning their second Stanley Cup title in three years.
6. Nashville Predators: No Love
Let’s be honest, the Predators get no love. They are far from flashy and are a far cry away from an offensively focused team. But they are deserving of recognition, as they play excellent defense, highlighted by All-Star defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, along with goaltender and perennial Vezina candidate, Pekka Rinne. The Predators will definitely challenge for a playoff spot for the second year in a row after making it out of the first round of the postseason for the first time in franchise history during the 2011 playoffs.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins: Not Afraid
“No Crosby, no Malkin, no problem” has been the mantra for the Pittsburgh Penguins since their two superstars went down with season-ending injuries last year, and it has been amazingly accurate.
The Penguins qualified easily for the playoffs last year, and lost in a tight seven-game heart-breaker to the Tampa Bay Lightning in round one. This year, still operating without Crosby, and with a shaky Malkin, the Penguins look determined and very tough to beat. Their success without two of the best players in the world in the lineup really forces the question of just how unstoppable would the Penguins be were health not a factor.
4. San Jose Sharks: Space Bound
Every season of late, the Sharks have been a part of the Stanley Cup conversation. However, much like the Canucks, the Sharks have all of the talent and potential to be champions, but are consistently foiled at some point during their playoff run, usually the Western Conference finals. This year, after trading away a floundering Dany Heatley to the Minnesota Wild for stud D-man Brent Burns, the sky is the limit for the Sharks, as they hope to be Stanley Cup-bound.
3. Buffalo Sabres: Drop the World
The Sabres bulked up their lineup last offseason, adding depth to an already talented crop of forwards. This squad and its title-starved city are hungry for a championship, and this Sabres team gives them reason to dream the impossible dream. Led by All-World goaltender Ryan Miller, the Sabres will make a legitimate run at Lord Stanley’s cup this postseason, bank on it.
2. Philadelphia Flyers: Fast Lane
The Flyers shipped out stars Jeff Carter and Mike Richards over the offseason in an attempt to build a hungrier and all around more team-oriented squad. So far, it seems as though GM Paul Holmgren was correct in executing his controversial and much-scrutinized offseason moves. The Flyers look young, fast and most of all, they look hungry. Lord knows, the city of Philadelphia could really use a champion right about now.
1. Detroit Red Wings: You're Never Over
For years now, the Red Wings have been deemed “too old” to continue to compete for cups, and every year they prove their critics wrong. Not much else needs to be said other than that Detroit will once again qualify for the postseason and make some noise on the backs of their very seasoned, Hall of Fame-caliber veterans.