NHL Power Rankings: What Does the Coach Say? Edition


Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock reacts to a call during the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Theirs are the voices of reason and frustration, of discipline and encouragement, of potty and poetry.

They are the handpicked, grizzled conduits between the players and management and us hacks with voice-recording software on our cellphones.

They are the 31 National Hockey League head coaches, and so much can be gleaned about the state of their clubs from the words they say (and what they hold back).

We present … NHL Power Rankings: What Does the Coach Say Edition.

As per our weekly ritual, all 31 teams are ranked in order of their current strength. The write-ups feature a quote from each club’s bench boss that reveals something about where they sit.

(Tip of the cap to the all the beat writers who tweet out quotes and teams that send out video of the coach’s conferences.)

1. Nashville Predators

“I feel comfortable with any 20 guys that go in the lineup.” —Peter Laviolette, on his recent line juggling

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

“I’d say next week, then we’re looking pretty confident.” —Jon Cooper, predicting Ryan McDonagh’s Lightning debut

3. Winnipeg Jets

“If you protect against a team like Nashville, they’re going to score on you,” —Paul Maurice, who wants to instill an attack mentality

4. Boston Bruins

“I’ve known Brad a long time. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way he plays the game, the way he conducts himself as a person, as a pro, and we need it. I was chuckling after the game because there he is, puck finds him, but he’s on it, doesn’t quit.” —Bruce Cassidy, on Marchand scoring Tuesday’s OT winner to complete a hat trick

5. Pittsburgh Penguins

“Let’s not be fooled by the score.” —Mike Sullivan, criticizing his team after a victory over Calgary

6. Minnesota Wild

“If he was playing in Toronto, he’d be up for MVP.” —Bruce Boudreau, on 36-goal man Eric Staal

7. Anaheim Ducks

“We’re a desperate hockey club. We’re desperate for points.” —Randy Carlyle, finally, firmly in the mix

8. Vegas Golden Knights

“When you have a crowd like that, that’s excited all of the time, it feels like an extra player out there.” —Gerard Gallant, loving home-ice advantage

9. Philadelphia Flyers

“We’ve got young guys on our roster that are playing and are going to continue playing key roles and as we go through the year, most likely even larger roles as we want to continue growing as a team. But don’t ever discount the importance of a veteran presence, whether it’s in the dressing room after a positive or a tough situation or on the ice in the heat of the action.” —Dave Hakstol, jumping from hot seat to Jack Adams chatter

10. Washington Capitals

“He wants to show that he can still do it.” —Barry Trotz on Alex Ovechkin’s push for 50 goals

11. Toronto Maple Leafs

“Let’s get it fixed before the playoffs so we all know the rules.” —Mike Babcock, calling out the NHL’s goalie interference ambiguity

12. Florida Panthers

“No one’s waving the white flag here. We’re going. We’re going to scrape every point we can.” —Bob Boughner, Jan. 30

13. Los Angeles Kings

“If you can write a script for losing hockey games, we just wrote it.” —John Stevens, after a non-win

14. Dallas Stars

“When you have a knee injury, you’re not talking days. So we have to see where it goes. So we’ll see how good news we get here in the next couple of days. I think we can give you a pretty firm update by probably Thursday.” —Ken Hitchcock on the uncertainty surrounding No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop’s health

15. San Jose Sharks

“I’ve been coaching 25 years, and I’ve never seen a clump of beard on the ice before.” —Peter DeBoer, dropping a deadpan classic

16. New Jersey Devils

“You can’t win without good players and high-character guys. Just the importance of having the right people around you to support you, advise you, help you, push you. I’m fortunate to have that all the way through.” —John Hynes, on career victory 100

17. Columbus Blue Jackets

“That’s my fault. I thought he dove, and I signaled to him. I thought he dove, and he took exception. I have no business making any gesture or saying anything to a player. So that’s not on him. That’s just stupidity on my part.” —John Tortorella, apologizing for chirping at Alex Ovechkin

18. Calgary Flames

“Our goal is, we think we could be a 100-point club.” —early-season Glen Gulutzan, who might be happy with a 90-point club now

19. Colorado Avalanche

“Gosh, I don’t know.” —Jared Bednar, on if defensive horse Erik Johnson could be back next week (yikes)

20. St. Louis Blues

“A lot of people believe the end to our story is done. Beautiful thing about this game is we get to determine what the end to our story will be.” —Mike Yeo, dropping a jewel after the Paul Stastny trade

21. Detroit Red Wings

“There’s been lots of times when it’s looked like, you know, are we going to get back up? We keep getting back up, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing.” —Jeff Blashill, trying to get back up

22. Carolina Hurricanes

“We believe we’re going to get in. We really do.” —Bill Peters, talkin’ playoffs

23. New York Islanders

“It’s f—ing getting old.” —Doug Weight, post-game

24. Edmonton Oilers

25. New York Rangers

“You gotta hit the net.” —Alain Vigneault, wisdom

26. Chicago Blackhawks

“[GM Stan Bowman and I] have had some talk about [how] this year potentially could give us some answers for next year. I’m not thinking of next year. I’m thinking of where we’re at now.” —Joel Quenneville, who’s at last place in the division

27. Vancouver Canucks

“He’s been a big bright spot to our season.” —Travis Green, on quite possibly a season-ending injury for Brock Boeser

28. Ottawa Senators

“We’ve had zero issues inside our room. Zero. The guys have really good attitudes, sticking together…. The players never turned on each other.” —Guy Boucher

29. Arizona Coyotes

“We just couldn’t score.” —Rick Tocchet

30. Montreal Canadiens

“What’s embarrassing is [Rick] Nash embellishing [a high-sticking call]. The stick hits his shoulder, it doesn’t even hit his face, and he embellishes and looks at the referee.” —Claude Julien, calling out a Bruins player after a Montreal loss

31. Buffalo Sabres

“We should have our aggression at the start of the game and playing heavy and finishing checks more than at the end of the game.” —Phil Housley

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