2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs logo2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs

5 NHL Teams That Haven't Played to Their Full Potential

Eddie TheisenContributor IIIDecember 29, 2011

5 NHL Teams That Haven't Played to Their Full Potential

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    The NHL is about 35 games into the season for every team in the league. So far, we have seen some teams that have surprised us with how well they have done. Then, we have seen some teams that make us shake our head, and wonder how they could be so bad.

    This year, it seems like there are a bunch of teams that are struggling despite all their great talent. Here are some of those teams.

Anaheim Ducks

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    Record: 10-19-6. 14th in the Western Conference.

    The Anaheim Ducks have possibly been the biggest shock in terms of record, so far. The Ducks have always been slow starters, but never this slow. They are also one of the many teams to fire their head coach early in the season; they ended up bringing in Bruce Boudreau from the Washington Capitals.

    The Ducks have also been so desperate, they have been thinking of shaking up their lineup a bit. In talks of trade have been star forward Bobby Ryan. That is when you know Anaheim has hit the panic button. 

    The Ducks currently sit 14 points out of a playoff spot and with maybe the toughest division in the NHL, they could see themselves missing the playoffs with all this talent. They must look to turn this around by winning on the road. They have only managed a 3-10-5 record on the road this season and tie the Blue Jackets for the least amount of road wins. 

    Look for the Ducks to miss the playoffs because of this horrendous start. I just can't see them making a dramatic comeback and going on a tear in the second half of the season to sneak into the playoffs at the end of the year. 

Los Angeles Kings

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    Record: 17-14-5. 11th in the Western Conference.

    The Los Angeles Kings were a team that many predicted to win the Stanley Cup in the 2012 playoffs. I was one of them, too. So far, it looks like they haven't even noticed the season has started, with many of their star players not producing like they should be doing.

    The Kings are the lowest-scoring team in the NHL and had their first three-goal game last night for the first time since November 4. With all the offensive talent on the team, it is amazing to see the Kings only put up 80 goals in 36 games.

    Los Angeles had a big summer, getting players like Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and re-signing Drew Doughty after his holdout.

    The Kings need to find some sort of chemistry or their season will be a humongous disappointment. They have the talent and front office to win a Stanley Cup; they just need to make it happen by performing like they can.

    Look for them to definitely make the playoffs, but if they can't get the puck in the net, it will be another short playoff season for the Kings. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Record: 9-22-5. 15th in the Western Conference (Last in NHL).

    The Columbus Blue Jackets were a team this year that was supposed to get out of the basement and start becoming a consistent playoff team. It has been the complete opposite so far. The Jackets went out and signed All-Star forward Jeff Carter in the summer to help out Rick Nash. It hasn't worked out very well.

    Columbus hasn't gotten much help from their goalies either. Steve Mason has put up a horrendous 4-15-2 record this season, has a GAA of 3.41 and has a save percentage of .881. Not exactly the start anyone in Columbus was hoping for Mason.

    The Blue Jackets' only bright side of the season is a high draft pick coming at the end of the year. They might be better of trying to finish dead last in the league, giving themselves a better chance for the first pick in the draft.

    Look for Columbus to finish the season last in the Western Conference, and maybe even last in the NHL. There's no hope for the season to be salvaged. 

Washington Capitals

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    Record: 18-15-2. 10th in the Eastern Conference. 

    The Washington Capitals probably have the worst case of underachieving this season, which is a major surprise, considering that they started out the season at 7-0. After that great start the Capitals started to fade out fast.

    The Capitals recently fired former head coach Bruce Boudreau, who is now with the Anaheim Ducks. It seems coaching isn't the only reason for Washington's unsuccessful season. With All-Star players like Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin not producing like they are used to doing, it makes it difficult to win. Another big reason for not winning is the injured Mike Green missing the majority of the season.

    It is hard to tell what Washington needs to do to turn their season around. It could be anywhere from a huge trade to fixing a simple chemistry problem.

    Look for the Capitals to definitely make the playoffs, and maybe even make a run to the Stanley Cup, if they can turn it around in time.  

Buffalo Sabres

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    Record: 17-16-3. 11th in Eastern Conference. 

    The Sabres and their fans thought that they would get back to being a top team in the Eastern Conference with new owner Terry Pegula willing to spend some money for the team. It has been the complete opposite for Buffalo. 

    They had some big signings in the summer, getting players like Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff. Buffalo has a good core of players and should be better than they are playing right now. Though, it doesn't help when All-Star goalie Ryan Miller isn't playing to his abilities.

    The Sabres should maybe consider a trade to turn things around for the club. Maybe move a player like Jason Pominville or Drew Stafford and get someone with some grit.

    Look for Buffalo to make the playoffs and maybe get a five or six seed.  

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