The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams will be the focus of the sporting world in North America this weekend when they meet in the Super Bowl. A massive event that overshadows all else every year, of course we're going to let them wiggle their way into our NHL Power Rankings this week.
Let's get a little silly.
Since the NFL and NHL each have 32 teams, we figured why not assign a comparable franchise in each sport? Now, there are not 32 neat lines to be drawn between each franchise in their current state, so some of these will be historical references or just general similarities. The bottom line is we had a little fun with these and hope you enjoy them too – and, of course, that it ignites other thoughts on who we should have lined up instead.
As always, the ranking of the NHL teams is based on standings performance, with a weight on recent success.
1. Colorado Avalanche: Los Angeles Chargers
Teams with an awful lot of talent, potential and seemingly on track to contend for a while – but just haven't been able to convert it into long playoff runs yet.
2. Florida Panthers: Cincinnati Bengals
A long-cursed team without any recent playoffs success that's now quickly on the rise – is anyone going to be surprised if Florida ends up in the Stanley Cup Final as the Bengals prepare for their Super Bowl appearance?
3. Toronto Maple Leafs: Dallas Cowboys
Huge-market teams aggressively trying to build a winner and failing miserably in the playoffs. Canada's team vs. America's team – and a lot of people hate hearing about both (watch how many rage at Toronto's No. 3 ranking!).
4. Tampa Bay Lightning: Kansas City Chiefs
The cream of the crop and a couple teams that look set up to be contenders – or favourites – to win championships for years to come.
5. Minnesota Wild: Indianapolis Colts
A couple of breakout stars (Jonathan Taylor-Kirill Kaprizov) changed the entire outlook for these teams, bring dazzling highlights and are surrounded by good supporting casts. Both teams can easily be underestimated, or even labelled as "boring" when that's just not the case.
6. Carolina Hurricanes: San Franciso 49ers
Fun teams to watch, fast-rising contenders and do things in a way that isn't always by the book. Are the 49ers also jerks?
7. Calgary Flames: Green Bay Packers
Frigid climates, old stadiums and big questions around who is leading the team forward from here – Aaron Rodgers' future is up in the air for the Packers, while the Flames face critical decisions on Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk as they come up for new contracts.
8. New York Rangers: Baltimore Ravens
Teams that seemingly have all the pieces to contend, electric star power leading the way, but the lingering question: "Are they for real"?
9. St. Louis Blues: Philadelphia Eagles
More often than not these two are on the "good" side of their leagues and maybe should have more championship banners hung. The Donovan McNabb-era Eagles never won their title, just as the Chris Pronger-led Blues never got theirs. Both won it all in recent years, though, to end long droughts dating to the '60s (when the Blues were created and the Eagles last won a title).
10. Pittsburgh Penguins: New England Patriots
The flagship franchises in their leagues for years and a couple of teams that won multiple championships with similar core leaders, but a lot of change on the margins along the way. Both then also fell out of favour and faced closing windows – but can they return to contention before long? The Pens may already be there again.
11. Nashville Predators: Tennessee Titans
This same-city one actually works! One massive difference-maker on the roster (Juuse Saros-Derrick Henry) and a team of workers that's well-coached.
12. Vegas Golden Knights: LA Rams
Teams never shy to make big additions and are always in on the most notable players available.
13. Los Angeles Kings: Las Vegas Raiders
Are they rebuilding, or are they something more than that? Resurgent veterans (Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty-Derek Carr) helped carry these teams forward to improved results. Plus – the colour scheme. Silver helmets, unite!
14. Boston Bruins: Seattle Seahawks
Long-time and recent contenders that are scratching and clawing to keep the dream alive – but the end of an era feels near for both.
15. Anaheim Ducks: Miami Dolphins
Teams that have tried to build through the draft and have a promising future led by a couple exciting young players.
16. Dallas Stars: Atlanta Falcons
Reaching a league final, putting up a fight, losing to a dynasty-like favourite and then sliding down in the standings as it becomes apparent that it's time to pivot to a younger core.
17. Washington Capitals: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The circumstances to how Tom Brady ended up in Tampa Bay and Alex Ovechkin ended up in Washington are entirely different, but both of these teams are being pulled along by one particularly generational player surrounded by a good collection of talent but who, if they left or retired, would leave an organizational crisis behind.
18. Edmonton Oilers: Arizona Cardinals
Led by truly exceptional and unique talents (Connor McDavid-Kyler Murray), a bold transaction for a veteran to push things forward (Evander Kane-DeAndre Hopkins), these are a couple teams that can be fun to watch and should be contending, but who just haven't put it all together yet.
19. New York Islanders: Pittsburgh Steelers
A couple of organizations with a very specific identity (the Barry Trotz "sum of its parts" system vs. tough defence and running) and a way of doing things that usually leads to surprising success. You can't ever really count them out.
20. Detroit Red Wings: Carolina Panthers
Former contenders (OK, the Wings were a little more than that) finally, hopefully, on the rise again thanks to an infusion of young talent complemented by some already established pieces in place.
21. Ottawa Senators: Chicago Bears
After lacking a key part of a winning roster for some time (a top centre for the Senators, a quarterback for the Bears), they maybe are getting those pieces in place now with a rebuild. Can they develop as advertised, or does the utter lack of belief in the organization's ability to develop, team build and see it all through ultimately lead to it collapsing again?
22. Winnipeg Jets: New Orleans Saints
Though the Saints did get their title and the Jets didn't, both teams were dangers to the league for years and it never really felt like the results ever matched that potential for long. Also, both long-standing coaches have departed those organizations, which should bring a new direction.
23. Columbus Blue Jackets: Detroit Lions
Is "cursed" too strong a word? Let's go with snake-bitten. A couple of hard-working teams who are easy to root for, but probably destined to sit near the bottom of the standings for a few years yet.
24. Vancouver Canucks: New York Giants
Some good players added in the draft, some poor team building around it, and just overall underwhelming results on the field of play has led to new front offices for both. The Giants and Canucks may have some trades to make in the near future ...
25. Chicago Blackhawks: Washington Commanders
Logo and team name concerns, off-field/ice issues and problematic ownership.
26. San Jose Sharks: Buffalo Bills
Historically, are these the two best teams that have come closest to winning league championships on many occasions without actually doing it?
27. Buffalo Sabres: New York Jets
Perpetually rebuilding and never seem to go anywhere with it.
28. Seattle Kraken: Denver Broncos
Some analytics-friendly players on both sides, these two teams really felt like they'd be better this year but one very key position (goaltending for the Kraken, quarterback for the Broncos) was too big of a minus and let them down.
29. New Jersey Devils: Minnesota Vikings
OK, people, they can't all be perfect. These teams have, at times, gotten in their own way with contracts far too lucrative for the return (think Ilya Kovalchuk, P.K. Subban-Kirk Cousins). There is always hope things will turn around and they'll suddenly contend again, though.
30. Philadelphia Flyers: Cleveland Browns
Just as the Browns had been (and maybe still are) cursed at the quarterback position for decades, so too are the Flyers cursed at the goalie position. No matter the promise teased on these rosters over the years, there always seems to be a fatal flaw that makes them fall flat.
31. Arizona Coyotes: Jacksonville Jaguars
Struggling to be competitive despite making some early draft picks recently, and the possibility of relocating always seems to be looming.
32. Montreal Canadiens: Houston Texans
In both cases, these teams were trying to build up to something special, seemed to be making progress, and then the bottom completely fell out – partly due to questionable roster construction and asset management, and partly due to things outside of the team's control.