NHL Teams Having the Worst 2013-14 Training Camps
Not everyone can have the same level of preseason success as the 5-1 Tampa Bay Lightning or the undefeated Dallas Stars. Both teams have cemented their place among the NHL's elite by trucking through the season before the season like it was nothing.
We kid, of course.
Preseason success very rarely translates to regular-season winning streaks. However, sometimes the exact opposite can be true. Sometimes stumbling out of the gate during the "games that don't matter" can really affect team mojo.
Especially if the injury bug is already chewing through the lineup, like it has been for the Detroit Red Wings, or if your new coaching staff is seemingly having a difficult time implementing new systems.
All preseason statistics appear courtesy of ESPN.com.
Detroit Red Wings
Health has been a recent issue for the aging Detroit Red Wings. They barely made the playoffs in 2013 because of injuries taking chunks out of their lineup on a nightly basis, and the problem has apparently already kicked in for the 2013-14 campaign.
General manager Ken Holland made several splashes in the free-agency pool, signing Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss, presumably to create a strong second line with Johan Franzen. That trio has yet to skate together, though, and while it is just the preseason, now is the time to start building chemistry.
Not Christmas time. Which, at this rate, will be approximately when Franzen, Weiss and Alfredsson will all be simultaneously healthy.
MLive.com is reporting that Darren Helm has started skating with the team again, but his long-awaited return is anything but imminent.
Backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson pulled his groin after managing to play for 40 consecutive minutes and will be out around three weeks. Mike Babcock talked to USA Today about the injury:
"He hurt his groin. I thought he played well until he hurt his groin. We say day-to-day, and then in seven to 10 days, we start talking about him playing in two weeks."
Goaltending prospect Petr Mrazek is next on the depth chart, but Detroit doesn't want him warming the bench and helping keep track of line changes in the NHL. They want him logging big minutes with the defending AHL champion Grand Rapids Griffins, but he might have to back up Jimmy Howard for a month or more.
Then there's the interesting case of Dan Cleary, whom the Red Wings unexpectedly re-signed. That takes a roster spot away from either Tomas Tatar or Gustav Nyquist, which is unfortunate because they've both more than paid their dues for the organization.
It's been a choppy start to a season where the Wings hope to be among the teams seriously capable of contending for the Stanley Cup.
There's a universe where the Vancouver Canucks transitioned seamlessly to new coach John Tortorella's abrasive style of coaching and new levels of expectations. While things haven't been downright ugly during the preseason, they haven't been pretty either.
Vancouver has given up 18 goals in just four games, and that's a big problem for a few reasons.
In general, it was expected that Tortorella would get more of a defensive effort for the top players in Vancouver, and so far that hasn't been the case. At least it wasn't—until they crushed the New York Rangers 5-0 on September 26, but that's the expectation when a loaded home team goes up against a visiting squad full of borderline NHLers.
This could be a positive sign of things to come. We won't know for another few weeks until the games truly begin to matter.
Then there's the question of where Roberto Luongo's head is. He got blown out of the water during his first preseason start but has been stellar since. He gave up four goals in his first period but stopped a whopping 41 Rangers shots on the 26th.
That was Vancouver's last preseason game, so they'll have to spend time in practice ironing out the rest of the kinks before the season opens for them on October 3 against the San Jose Sharks.
New York Rangers
Just as John Tortorella has struggled a bit in the early going with the Vancouver Canucks, Alain Vigneault has had an equally tough time with the New York Rangers. He's tried to install a more high-octane system based around speed and precision, and so far the results have been mixed.
No team has scored less in the preseason than the Rangers. They have eight goals through five games, which just isn't going to cut it for a team looking to be doing more damage in the offensive zone, even if it is just the preseason.
Getting Derek Stepan back is a boost on paper, but how will the 23-year-old adjust without playing during training camp at all? New York opens the season against the Phoenix Coyotes on October 3, giving Stepan all of six days to get rolling.
It isn't like New York is excelling where it usually does, either. Only the Winnipeg Jets have a worse goal differential than the Rangers, who are sitting at minus-10 after five contests. A 5-0 whitewashing at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks on September 26 was just salt in the wound for a team that's trying to put things together in a hurry at this point.
The Winnipeg Jets had a lot of positive momentum heading into the preseason. The team had locked up its core for the foreseeable future, committing big term and money to the likes of Zach Bogosian, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little.
Prospects like Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba seemed poised to take on bigger roles heading into the 2013-14 season and gave the Jets something to look forward to heading into camp.
Sadly, the results haven't been very good. Again, it is just preseason, but you likely want to see your team performing better than Winnipeg has. While they've picked up the "loser point" in three contests, an overall record of 1-3 has to leave a bit to be desired.
With three of those games going to overtime or the shootout, players had the chance to really stand out and step up while trying to carve out particular roles with the team. That didn't happen, though, and because of that, the opening-night roster is as "clear as mud," as the Winnipeg Free Press wrote.
It'll be interesting to see if the Jets can manage to piece together an identity in time for the season opener on October 1 against the Edmonton Oilers.
Going 3-3 through their first six preseason games, the Anaheim Ducks have had some good news and some bad news. The quick and surprising emergence of Shea Theodore has been a plus, and the 2013 first-rounder could very well make the opening-night roster.
That's about where the positives end for Anaheim, though, as the injuries are already piling up. Especially on the blue line.
Luca Sbisa and Sheldon Souray both went down early on, and while that likely leaves the door open for Theodore and Sami Vatanen to get some playing time, it isn't good news heading into October for the Ducks.
Then there's the matter of Dustin Penner, whom the Ducks re-signed and immediately placed on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. That should sound familiar to folks who have been following the game over the last few years.
It was that trio that terrorized opponents to no end and helped the Ducks win their first Stanley Cup back in 2007. That was a long time ago, though, and Penner has yet to post a point in the preseason. He'll need to get on his horse quickly, lest he lose his spot to a guy like Emerson Etem on the top line.