SPNHL, Season 37: Week Four Power Rankings – “In West Philadelphia, Winning Games”
What really constitutes “new-wave”? Is it specifically the period of time where pop bands were incorporating punk sensibilities and ushering in a new genre of music? Is it a select group of bands that used a similar sound and were instrumental in changing the style and perception of popular music? Music is incredibly subjective, and on that subject, this week’s review will focus on my personal favourite (and in my opinion, the best) Nine Inch Nails record: “Pretty Hate Machine” (also my GF’s nickname for me, best hair in the biz).
Trent Reznor flipped industrial music on it’s head in 1989 with his debut album, adding frantic disco and haunting ambience to anthemic rock riffs. The album starts out with the live staple “Head Like a Hole”, encouraging audiences at home to sing along with the song’s infectious chorus, and continues to eock on with memorable compositions like “Terrible Lie” and “Sanctified”. While the middle of the album slows right down with the ghastly-yet-beautiful “Something I Can Never Have”, it picks right back up with the berserk single “Sin” and closes out with the deranged, danceable “Ringfinger”. “Pretty Hate Machines” set a tone that NIN’s albums would maintain for the next decade, as Reznor emerged as one of the leaders of the rock genre and one of the most creative individuals in modern music.
Philly lost? Well that’s a new one. Vancouver and San Jose won? That’s ALSO a new one. Week four was filled with events and occurrences we haven’t seen since the first week of the season, such as the Penguins losing three in a row to put their playoff spot in jeopardy. However, with two thirds of the season gone by, we’re getting down to the final stretch and for teams that aren’t in the playoffs, it’s now or never. Playoff pushes will be made, big moves are in store, teams will be stacked, and the weak teams fill fold like accordions.
The battle of the big two in the East continues to rage on, as only five points separate the Tampa Bay Lightning (61 points) and the Philadelphia Flyers (56 points) in the race for the first seed in the conference and likely the President’s Trophy. The Red Wings are on a five game winning streak, and have all but secured third seed in the East, but the Penguins are in danger of losing their playoff spot to the surging Devils. While the Penguins have lost 3 straight, the Devils have won 6 of their last 10 and seem primed to take the final playoff spot in the conference. While showing signs of life last week, the Senators and Maple Leafs are all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
Over in the West, it’s still anybody’s game as far as playoff seeding goes. Winnipeg is leading the conference with 51 points, while Edmonton is hot on their tail with 50 points, and Minnesota is only three points behind at 48 points (with some recent offensive upgrades, they may be able to close the gap). The Golden Knights have fallen out of the fourth playoff spot, as the Ducks have risen from the dead under new leadership into the fourth seed by a single point. Meanwhile, the Sharks and the Canucks have snapped their losing streaks but still find themselves at the bottom of the conference and a long ways away from a playoff spot. Maybe Visibility and Tripz should start planning for next season.
Let’s see how everybody did this past week!
1. Tampa Bay Lightning.
Trend: Upwards (W7).
Notable Stats: 211 goals for (1st), 50.7% powerplay conversion (1st).
Albeit losing to the Devils this past week in a 6-1 defeat, the Lightning had the best week in the league scoring 16 of 18 points. With the undisputed best offense in the league, DodgesBlueShells and PistolPete7788_ are thriving behind them, forming the highest scoring pairing in the league while sharing the league lead in assists from the point (Petey leads defenders in goals and points with 25 and 70). Shootersteele19 has won 14 of his 17 starts, while Bufford80 has won 10 of his 12 as a serviceable backup goaltender. Bluedevil631 is averaging 4.1 points a game, i9i-stamkos-i1ic is second in the league with assists with 80, and hypey- is leading the league in goals with 72. Consistency is key, and Tampa has consistently been lighting teams up all season, while showing no signs of slowing down.
2. Philadelphia Flyers.
Trend: Upwards (W1).
Notable Stats: 90 goals against (2nd), 47 penalties against (3rd).
Both of their losses came to the aforementioned team, but otherwise, Philadelphia continued to dominate the league this past week. They really showed their defensive prowess this past week, employing two highly effective pairings in the pair of PXSTRNAK-_- and IsaacRixon, and Yesc__ and DudNastyy (who leads all Flyers defenders with 18 points). Spencer_Knight30 is returning to his Vezina form from last season, saving .815% of shots and averaging 2.68 GAA, while NHLBEAST- is sharing similar numbers as his backup. With an established forward line in Duchesne_x_10, xSilky93 (leading forwards with 3.1 PPG), and GrammyHands (leading all Flyers in goals (41), assists (45), and points (86)), the Flyers have all the tools they need to contend for the Stanley Cup.
3. Detroit Red Wings.
Trend: Upwards (W5).
Notable Stats: 203 goals for (2nd), 58.3% penalty kill (12th).
Rebounding from a disappointing (by their standards) week 3 and start to week 4, the Red Wings won 5 straight to return to their winning ways. Detroit’s offense is potent (reaching double digits twice last week), but their defense and goaltending could use a bit of work (giving up 33 goals against). Nonetheless, Matrikstl and Dedstarks have formed a solid backup pairing behind Faaa_Kueue and curtisx18x (leads this team’s blueline with 36 points). Eddie2708_ and CapBan_Clark1999 have nearly identical numbers while winning 25 of their 35 combined starts. Meanwhile, mjvoell4 is fitting in nicely between Reapz2313 and LeCupidon, the latter leading the league in assists with 82 and points with 153. They say the best defense is a good offense, right?
4. New Jersey Devils.
Trend: Upwards (W1).
Notable Stats: 147 goals for (4th), 63% penalty kill (9th).
The Devils looked like they might miss the playoffs this season, but find themselves right back in the thick of things after their winning week. They have a far too talented team to miss the playoffs, especially with AAli-21 at the blue line, and he’s had success so far this season with DJ_DeaThSlapz85 and the new arrival in malf922. The Devils still haven’t found that solid starting goaltender, as Pensrul066 and dreamteamm66 continue to struggle between the pipes (neither getting under 3.5 GAA or over .720% save percentage). Pfarrcyde23 is that natural center that bstieboydp and TrueLegend07 (who eclipsed the century mark this past week with 46 goals and 54 points), and if they keep having weeks like this last one, he’ll be their starting center in the playoffs.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins.
Trend: Sideways (L3).
Notable Stats: 62.7% penalty kill (10th), 170 goals against (11th).
In the middle of a playoff race, having a week like this past one can be disastrous, but at least they got 17 out of 18 points in the week before. They’ll need all the points they can get with the Devils hot on their tail, and they’re gonna need more work from their defensive core. Bostonbruins_4_ has been reliable for the Penguins (one of two players to play in all games this season), but he has lacked a consistent partner at the blue line as Isleezl is second in games played on the team with 16 games and averaging an assist per game. Shock_r may not be the starting goalie that the Penguins thought he was, as he is averaging over 4 goals against per game and has dipped under a .7% save percentage. ACK-stonerboy is the other player who has played each game this season, amassing 86 points, and will need greater contributions from vxWoytkiw8xv (averaging 3.7 PPG in his 22 games) and new arrival BarDownski_90 if they want to hold onto their playoff spot.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs.
Trend: Downwards (L1).
Notable Stats: 118 goals for (t-11th), 192 goals against (13th).
You have to give Toronto credit, they had a terrible start to the season, but now find themselves winning at a somewhat consistent pace! Will this pace be able to carry them into the playoffs? Nah. M_u_r_p_h_y_87 is averaging a point per game on D, while GaMeRzBrOknThMbZ and Dynasty1989 haven’t exactly carried their weight. Earlthegoat1979 hasn’t been awful in net, saving .73% of shots but averaging just under 5 GAA. the724sniper has gone AWOL, Christ-Boyz has become their starting RW (averaging 2 points per game but sitting at -34), but Imperial_Blaze94 is having a decent season with 23 goals and 55 points (2.75 PPG). Maybe he’ll be able to rebuild the Leafs next season.
7. Ottawa Senators.
Trend: Downwards (L2).
Notable Stats: 29.7% powerplay conversion (10th), 190 goals against (12th).
Another manager down! Wheelchairdevon8 stepped down, and after being traded back to the Senators, SA_Pliskin now runs a team as well as the league! Wheelchairdevon8 didn’t leave him much though, as he is tasked with building a competent defensive core out of BETOBONE1, PghFANATIC, and our old friend Cuban1616 (that core doesn’t sound awful TBH). With Wheelchairdevon8 and SgtVandoos as goaltending options (the latter having one of his worst seasons ever), the Senators aren’t the most gifted at the position, but they’re definitely serviceable. Meanwhile, some new arrivals in MAGIC_MIKEY1 and Papadamou_l88l will hopefully be able to help out SA_Pliskin up front (who has 63 points and 266 hits this season). Maybe the Senators will break the curse next season!
1. Edmonton Oilers.
Trend: Upwards (L1).
Notable Stats: 94 goals against (t-3rd), 73% penalty kill (4th).
We lost a game each night (and nearly caved in on ourselves in the process), but the Oilers had a 2-1 win-loss ratio this past week as Edmonton closed in on Winnipeg’s first seed. ChiefTrout has been putting in work at defense with 24 games, while rharmer3 and l9lTKJOSl8l have been producing proficiently at defense (the latter with 19 points on the season). ciulla19 has been returning to form in net, getting below a 3 GAA and saving .763% of shots. Buckleyx18 is keeping his Calder dreams alive and well, while DeathClxwn has been dynamite up front and is pairing well with JonFromEarth, who leads the team with 47 goals and 46 assists. We got the right team, so let’s see what we can do in the playoffs.
2. Winnipeg Jets.
Trend: Upwards (OT1).
Notable Stats: 159 goals for (3rd), 75.5% penalty kill (3rd).
With i_Zinczy_i_TV and Elfpha (the former PBM_TroyJ) putting in work this week, the Jets are starting to see their explosive offensive core come together just in time for the playoffs. It seems like ProdigyToLegend and ttommyboiii will be their starting duo moving forward, as both defenders are averaging over 1.5 PPG (the former leading the team with 38 points in 26 games), and CaptCanada_ will serve as the third member of their d-core. Glachs and dophares2000 are both averaging under a 3 GAA and over a .750% save percentage, as the latter has brought up his numbers in recent weeks. BRANN-THE-MANN, Gallagher_11x, and Bartlett–98 have been reliable for this team all season long, and now i_Zinczy_i_TV and friends are living up to their billing (Zinczy is leading the team with 29 goals and 61 points). With no possible bad lines to be formed out of their roster, this team will definitely make a run at Stanley.
3. Minnesota Wild.
Trend: Upwards (W3).
Notable Stats: 83.7% penalty kill (1st), 88 goals against (1st).
While the Wild may not have had the best week in the West, they definitely won on the trade block with some major acquisitions in Diirty_triix_13 and Bunzy-62. Some low scoring games required an offensive boost, and shepard-88- will be able to breakout to some new, more talented players while SNAKE_-_PLISSKIN holds down the fort as a strong defensive defender. Bunzy-62 is going to make some noise in Minnesota, and may be able to help break Diirty_triix_13 out of his funk. Will these two scorers share the puck evenly? chadkillz134 continues to thrive in net, averaging 2.54 GAA and stopping .850% of shots as he looks to reclaim his Vezina crown. With their new additions, Minnesota looks to be a very strong squad heading into the playoffs.
4. Anaheim Ducks.
Trend: Upwards (W2).
Notable Stats: 123 goals against (6th), 118 goals for (t-11th).
Anaheim’s first week with ExE-_-53 in charge was a fruitful one, as the Ducks had their best week of the season (and maybe last season, too). The trades that ExE pulled off have rebuilt this Ducks squad, finding some defensive partners for himself in Fluri37 and NowYoDead, as well as utility players in Dptickler and SMOKESHOWJOE. In net, the duo of wade-belak and angl3dangle_ will have the ability to rectify their seasons and perform up to the high standards of ExE and slick’s Toronto team last season. Speaking of the latter, he has formed an effective forward line with JOE and xSalda, adding to his totals this season to reach 51 goals and 54 assists this season. With this squad, the Ducks have a good chance at cracking playoffs, especially if this next team keeps up their losing ways.
5. Vegas Golden Knights.
Trend: Downwards (L3).
Notable Stats: 145 goals for (6th), 156 goals against (10th).
I can’t believe IceyAsylum23 split up Pliskin and Lo-Maximus. I also can’t believe Kingtom111 and Budz_780 are still there after all this time. Oh well. Unfortunately, another series of moves by the Knights have stripped them of almost all the talent they had left. Well, offensive talent at least, as they have a respectable defensive core in Eggman–1, Budz_780, and Notorious250 (averaging a point per game in his 19 games). Fivestarcoock looks like he might take over the starting role from IceyAsylum23 based on their schedule for this week, and if he brings that GAA below 5, he’ll be fine. Offensively, Kingtom111 is going to get acquainted with Randymarsh2012 as he reunites with former Senators teammate Lo-Maximus (who leads the team with 79 points in 33 games). Will the Knights be able to bounce back from a terrible week and hold onto their playoff spot?
6. San Jose Sharks.
Trend: Downwards( W1).
Notable Stats: 18.8% powerplay conversion (14th), 79 goals for (14th).
Visibility12 learned his lesson and shut up this week, and his team won two games! Albeit over the other two bottom feeders in the West, they won two games! Unfortunately, they traded their best player in Bunzy for a slew of mediocre forwards. DUPERMAN13 is back in San Jose, finding his role in a defensive core with Visibility12, teamrun420, and Headcase25. WakeDog19’s numbers are starting to look a little scary for a starting goaltender, averaging over 4 GAA and a saver percentage under .700%. CSM0419_ and Beantwn_beatdwn will likely pair with Servnspike to form this team’s top line, as we hope the latter will be a solid anchor for two talented wingers and give this team some life.
7. Vancouver Canucks.
Trend: Downwards (L1).
Notable Stats: 82 goals for (13th), 217 goals against (14th).
tripZ504 and the Canucks are back to their winning ways, and by that I mean winning a game a week. Maybe if xHAC_Rambo had some help, they could get a few more dubs. With issues scoring and preventing goals against, you would think that this team would trade some of their natural defenders for a goaltender or a better forward. They have a few in tripZ504, MayhemX113, M1keal, and steelersfan26 that they could move for a forward, as TopCheeseNeon has performed well while stopping 76 of 93 shots in net. Neon has also scored 15 goals in 13 games, acting as the limited help that Rambo has received offensively. With his 22 goals and in 18 games, Rambo is the knight in shining armor (or Canuck in a Canadian tuxedo, for that matter) that Vancouver needs in a dark season.
With the trade deadline approaching at the end of this week, these next 9 games are all crucial for the 14 teams in the SPNHL. While teams have glaring weaknesses that they need to fix, such as goaltending in New Jersey and Pittsburgh and offense in Minnesota and Vegas, a lot of teams will be lacking to stack their rosters and add that extra depth piece that will put them over the top and make them legit contenders for the Cup. Will Philly make any more blockbuster moves? Will the Jets move any of their big pieces? Only time will tell.
We apologize for the lack of a broadcast this past weekend, as there were some real-life circumstances that prevented us from delivering the latest news and musings of all things SPNHL to you. However, we will do our best to deliver a show this weekend, as there will definitely be a lot to talk about. While we’ll aim for the evening, make sure to tune in at https://twitch.tv/thespnhl_media and subscribe to stay notified of when we go live. While you’re there, why not check out past broadcasts of the crew making fools of ourselves?
Thank you for reading, and good luck to all the teams this week! We’ll see you on the ice!