Monday, March 16, 2020

Remembering my worst power rankings of the season

It’s Monday, so this is supposed to be the weekend rankings column. Only this time, there’s no weekend to rank. That’s the new status quo, as we won’t have any NHL action to pick apart for weeks, if not a lot longer.

I’m not really sure what to do with that. I’m guessing you might be in the same boat as we try to figure out what to do without any sports in our lives, and how much that absence should even matter. It feels bizarre to think that it was just a week ago that I was pumping the tires of a potential Lightning/Bruins series (in a move that many of you correctly labeled as an obvious reverse-jinx attempt on behalf of the Leafs). That was seven days ago? It feels like seven years.

The plan around here is to keep the hockey writing coming, which will mean getting creative. OK, it’s going to be mean getting weird. If you thought Offseason DGB can sometimes get strange, wait until you see what No Hockey When There’s Still Snow On The Ground DGB might wander off to. This could get awkward.

But for today, I’m going to skip the rankings. The top five wouldn’t change much; we only had three nights of action since last week’s rankings, and even though I have no actual memory of any of those games, I’m going to assume they didn’t change the Stanley Cup outlook all that much. As for the bottom five, that’s just trying to predict what the basement will look like in the final standings. And right now, the standings look pretty darn final. So, you know, here you go.

Therefore, no rankings. Instead, I’m going to do what I always do when I have too much time on my hands: Revisit and rethink every bad decision I’ve ever made.

Yes, gentle reader, while it will no doubt shock some of you, I have a confession: Some of the rankings I’ve made over the last season have turned out to be wrong. And this is the week when I have to face the music on the worst of them.

We did this last year, under happier circumstances, and you all seemed to enjoy pointing and laughing at me appreciate my honesty and self-reflection. In case you’ve forgotten, that was a year that included bold calls like “the Sabres are a top-five team” and “those Blues sure are pretty bad.” As the kids say, those aged poorly.

So how did I do this year? Honestly … not awful? I feel like this year’s worst picks, while occasionally regrettable, won’t leave any serious marks. Maybe that’s because, as we’ve noted several times throughout the season, I’ve been more conservative about moving teams in and out of the rankings this year. In theory, that should make it easier to avoid the big mistake. And I think I mostly have.

But that’s not to say I didn’t make a few picks that I’d like to have back. So instead of this week’s rankings, let’s count down my five worst calls of the year.

5. Detroit not being the worst team every week: Did that sound harsh? It sounds harsh. But the Red Wings deserve it because they’ve been historically awful this year. It’s one thing to finish dead last – some team has to. It’s another to be quite possibly the worst team of the cap era, which is where Detroit was headed pretty much from the start. For most of the year, they’ve made at least one ranking nice and easy, because you could always pencil in the Wings for that No. 1 spot in the bottom five.

Except I didn’t. Not every week. In fact, there were four weeks when I didn’t have Detroit ranked as the league’s worst team. Which means there were four weeks where I was very wrong.

In my defense, those four weeks were the first four of the season; Detroit’s been holding down the spot ever since, a total of 20 weeks. Still, they didn’t dislodge the Senators until the first week of November. I can give myself a pass for week one since the Wings started 2-0-0 (and I still had them ranked third in the bottom five). Maybe week two, when they were 3-2-0. But after that? Like Jimmy Howard’s glove hand, I was too slow.

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