Monday, December 13, 2021

Weekend rankings: The Canucks are fixed, the Rangers haven’t convinced me yet, a contest update, and a Tortorella rant

We’ve hit the two-month mark of the season. Who wants to check in on how the prediction contest is going?

Maybe not many of you, because it’s been a rough start. If you’re not familiar with the contest, it’s a chance to predict the things that definitely will and won’t happen during the season. Just the easy stuff – the sort of calls that are obvious to anyone. Except that they often don’t end up being all that easy or obvious, and when that happens it can torpedo your entry. You can find this year’s contest, and the 1,582 entries, right here.

So how’s it going? The good news is that a lot of the biggest stories haven’t caught many of you off-guard. It’s been a surprisingly busy first few months in terms of coaches and GMs leaving their jobs, with four changes in each category. (We’re not counting Doug Wilson’s medical leave here, as it’s only expected to be temporary.) Those changes included a pair of teams pulling the trigger on Monday, with the Flyers firing Alain Vigneault while the Canucks confirmed the reports that they were moving on from Travis Green and Jim Benning. But that didn’t trip up many of you in the “definitely won’t lose their job” questions, with only five entries naming Benning and Vigneault and about 30 having Green. A little over 30 had Marc Bergevin being safe and almost 20 had Jeremy Colliton, so none of the standard-issue firings did much damage. Neither did Bob Murray’s exit, which hit less than ten of you, and Stan Bowman only got 14. But the Joel Quenneville firing was the big one, with 856 entries naming him as completely safe back in the days before the full scope of the Blackhawks scandal came into focus.

All in all, that’s not bad – eight firings, but only one that did real damage. That’s the good news. The bad news is that a few of the other questions are looking rough. Cole Caufield showed up as a Calder candidate sure-thing on a remarkable 1,511 entries, or over 95%, and that’s not looking great. Over 700 of you had Spencer Knight for the Calder question. There’s still time for both guys to rebound, but it’s a nervous start for just about everyone. And for what it’s worth, possible front-runner Lucas Raymond was only named by about 70 of you.

The playoff team questions are also looking scary for some of you. Just over 900 of you had the Islanders as a sure-thing playoff team, which seems unlikely, and over 140 were completely confident about the Jets. On the other side, a whopping 1,540 had the surprising Ducks as a lock to miss, along with over 1,300 entries that named the Red Wings, 800 for the Blue Jackets and over 500 for the Sharks. By contrast, things look OK on the Norris question, we haven’t had any major goalie injuries yet (although four of you somehow missed the Carey Price news when filling out your entries), and it’s too soon to rule any of the big stars out of the Hart race except for an injured Nikita Kucherov, which will cost about 600 of you.

But for a lot of you, none of that will matter. That’s because of this year’s new bonus questions, which offered you the chance to risk your entire entry by naming a player other than Connor McDavid who’d have 100 points, an opportunity that about three-quarters of you took. The good news is that 663 of you picked Leon Draisaitl, which looks like a lock if he stays healthy. But 154 had Nathan MacKinnon, who has to make up ground after missing time due to injury. And 219 had Kucherov, so you’re basically done.

Also, uh, it’s not great news for the one and only one entry that risked it all on Roope Hintz as their 100-point player.

Two months down, four to go, and already some of you are looking good while others are thinking ahead to next year. The same is true of a lot of NHL teams, and I suppose we should stop stalling and get to another week of power rankings you won’t agree with…

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