The 7 Most Disappointing Teams so Far This Season
The reason we love the NHL is because it's so unpredictable. Often, teams come out of nowhere to surprise the league, while other teams that were labeled as contenders falter in the blink of an eye.
This is why we all love hockey, anything can happen. Who saw the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings taking out the top three seeds in the Western Conference en route to winning the Stanley Cup?
In 2013, plenty of surprise teams have taken the league by storm, while other teams have not been playing up to expectations, thus shocking their fans and pundits.
Let's take a look at the seven most disappointing teams so far in 2013.
7. Vancouver Canucks
What? How can the seventh-seeded team in the West be considered a disappointment?
Well, where can I start? The back-to-back President's Trophy winners and The Hockey News' pick to win it all this season have been playing like they want to have a top-five pick in June.
After starting out the season 8-2-2 despite being notorious slow starters, the Canucks have gone 5-6-4 in their past fifteen games. They've scored 77 goals, which is tied for 15th in the league.
That's simply unacceptable for a team that has led its conference in goals the past three seasons.
Instead of choosing between two elite goaltenders, Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, the question is: Which struggling goaltender should have a chance tonight?
Here are the stats:
Save Percentage: .905%
Save percentage: .910%
The Canucks are stuck with two mediocre goaltenders, and it's going to create a mess in Vancouver if neither picks it up soon.
Depth scoring has also been a problem. The top line of Henrik and Daniel Sedin with Alex Burrows has scored 22 of the team's 77 goals. David Booth, Ryan Kesler and Manny Malhotra have been struck with long-term injuries, and it's dealt a huge blow to the team's performance on offense.
Yes, some teams would love to be in a tight playoff race like the Canucks, but being from Vancouver, we aren't used to seeing a team be so inconsistent.
The Canucks have one of the league's deepest rosters, and anything but home-ice advantage in the first round will be a disappointment.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos scored 60 goals for Tampa Bay last year while Martin St. Louis had 74 points. Despite all that, the Lightning missed the playoffs.
They were a popular pick to make their second postseason trip in three seasons, but that's looking more and more unlikely as the season progresses.
The Lightning gave up 278 goals last season—most in the league.
To solve that, they traded for goaltender Anders Lindback, who showed plenty of promise in Nashville backing up Pekka Rinne. They then went out and signed two puck-moving veteran defensemen in Sami Salo and Matt Carle to improve the blue line.
The defensive numbers have improved, but Tampa Bay's play has not.
After starting out the season 5-1, they have won just seven out of 22 games since.
The Lightning may not have been labeled as serious contenders to start the year, but the firepower their offense displays and the talent on their roster has labeled them as a disappointment.
They are currently six points out of a playoff spot in the East, but it's hard to believe that the lack of consistency will reverse the trend into a playoff team.
5. Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo is loaded with talent on its roster, with the likes of Christian Ehrhoff, former Calder Trophy winner Tyler Myers, Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford, Thomas Vanek, Steve Ott, Cody Hodgson and Jason Pominville.
Oh, and they also have former Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller between the pipes.
So what is wrong with this team?
For starters, Ryan Miller has not been his usual self, posting a putrid 9-13-4 record to go along with a save percentage of .909 and a GAA of 2.96. That will not when you hockey games.
Miller has shown his frustration, even going as far as to calling out his own teammate.
His defense hasn't helped though, as the Sabres have given up the second-most goals in the league with 91. The power play is 30th with a 11.5 success rate.
The penalty kill isn't much better, 24th overall and killing off just 78.4 percent of penalties.
The team as a whole has been a mess, which led to the longest-tenured head coach in the league, Lindy Ruff, being shown the door. Ruff was the bench boss for 14 seasons.
The horrible play of the Sabres has led to plenty of trade speculation, including Miller.
There is absolutely no excuse for a team with this much potential to be 10-15-4 and second-to-last in the Eastern Conference.
The Sabres are currently seven points out of eighth, but the race is tight, and if they do not pick it up by the April 3 deadline, general manager Darcy Regier better think about blowing up the roster and rebuilding.
4. Edmonton Oilers
Sure, the Edmonton Oilers have held the first overall pick for three straight seasons, but they should be playing better.
A lot better.
This team fields a king's ransom of talent that 29 other teams envy. Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Sam Gagner, Justin Schultz, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall form one of the deepest rosters in the league.
There comes a time when you can only have a top-five pick for so long, and it's been taking longer than expected for this team to emerge as a playoff contender.
The Oilers currently find themselves just two points out of eighth, but an 11-11-6 record speaks for itself. Edmonton is also -12 in goal differential. Simply unacceptable.
Devan Dubnyk has had far too many chances to prove himself as a bona fide number one goaltender, but an 8-9-5 record isn't good enough.
The point is, Edmonton has so much young talent and should be challenging Vancouver and Minnesota for the Northwest Division by now, but fans should feel lucky if this team finishes no worse than 11th.
3. Philadelphia Flyers
Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Danny Briere, Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Scott Hartnell, Jakub Voracek, Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen.
Yet, somehow a team with so much depth that few teams can match sits at 11th in the East with a 13-15-1 record.
The Flyers signed goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million contract, and instead of finding their long lost elite goaltender, they have found one of the worst.
Bryzgalov has posted a mediocre 13-12-1 record with a horrible .899 save percentage and a 2.78 GAA. If you ask me, I think it's safe to say Paul Holmgren is thrilled that the new CBA allows two buyout clauses.
Despite a below-average defense, Philly's offense should be able to make up for it, but that has not been happening this season.
For a team that has missed the playoffs just once in the past 17 seasons, this is not what the Flyers faithful is used to seeing.
Philadelphia's power play and penalty kill are both ranked seventh overall, but they have not been able to find their momentum.
Although plenty of the blame should be on Bryzgalov, the team and coaching, as a whole, needs to turn things around quickly. No GM makes as many blockbuster moves as Holmgren, so we can expect some phone calls to be made leading up to April 3.
Until that time, the Flyers have been a disappointment all season, but there is time to turn things around.
2. New York Rangers
The New York Rangers came into the 2013 season with lofty expectations.
Not only were they the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season, they also fell just two games short of the Stanley Cup Finals and brought in left-winger Rick Nash to form one of the most dangerous rosters in the league.
Henrik Lundqvist, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, was expected to have another strong campaign.
I made a big mistake taking Lundqvist with my first pick in Fantasy Hockey.
The Rangers were a Cup favorite entering the season, but have not been playing up to the level they should be.
Last season, the Rangers surrendered 182 goals, which was the least in the conference. This season, only four teams have given up fewer goals than the Rangers (65).
Despite the defense being a strength yet again for the Blueshirts, Lundqvist has been average with an 11-11-1 record. His save percentage of .919 and 2.30 GAA are acceptable, however.
The problem here is clearly the offense. Only San Jose and Columbus (60 goals) have scored less than the Rangers (63). That is shocking when your forwards consist of Brad Richards, Nash, Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan, Brian Boyle and Chris Kreider.
New York didn't have to give up too much when they traded for Nash, but both the Rangers and Columbus have 28 points. So far, it looks like Columbus won this trade.
GM Glen Sather has swung-and-missed with far too many blockbuster moves, and although this isn't his worst, it hasn't panned out.
I expect the Rangers to turn it around and sneak into the postseason, but until that happens, they should be considered a huge disappointment based on expectations going into this season.
If the Rangers miss out, at least we get more entertaining John Tortorella interviews.
1. Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals used to underachieve in the playoffs back when Bruce Boudreau was head coach.
Now you can add regular season to the list of underachieving.
I don't even know how to start.
Alex Ovechkin went from a consistent 50-goal scorer to barely notching 30, and Nicklas Backstrom has come nowhere close to getting near the 101-point campaign he had in 2009-10.
Despite being one of last year's Cup favorites, the Capitals barely squeaked into the postseason and were ousted in the second round for the third time in four seasons.
Many expected the Capitals to rebound, especially after hiring Adam Oates as the new head coach. His offense-first system was expected to bring back the old Ovechkin, but it hasn't. Ovie has just 11 goals and 23 points so far this season.
Mike Ribeiro has been one of the lone bright spots, with 31 points in 28 games so far. The power play is ranked third, but that hasn't translated into success.
The offense and defense has been in the middle of the pack, which we aren't used to seeing from this team. It's simply shocking.
It's still early, but time is running out for the 13th-placed team in the East to turn it around. They are six points out, but if they don't fix it come the trade deadline, expect a major shakeup to take place.
Washington can turn it around, but if that doesn't happen and they miss the playoffs, then Capitals Nation will be let down again.
It's still early to predict each team's fate, but for now, Washington is the most disappointing team so far this season.
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