Charles Krupa/Associated Press
30. Toronto Maple Leafs (last week: 29)
The USA could beat Russia in 1980, Villanova could beat Georgetown in 1985, the Jets could beat the Colts in 1969. But, to hear the apologetic fans and media of the Toronto Maple Leafs tell it, it was too much to ask of the NHL's highest-paid coach, Mike Babcock, to have anything but a last-place team in 2015-16.
"He's coaching an AHL roster!" goes the refrain. Sorry, no, he's had an NHL roster all year, and the numbers for this season speak for themselves. He will have coached the team that had the fewest points among the 30 in the NHL this year.
"But, we're losing less lopsidedly than last year!" goes the refrain of Babcock's apologists. Good job, good effort then. Here's your participation trophy. Well, hey, that trophy might be Auston Matthews. So maybe the refrain should be: "Great tank job, Babs!"
29. Calgary Flames (last week: 28)
Let's give the Calgary Flames some credit: they're not just mailing in every game the rest of the way, despite being hopelessly out of playoff contention. They went into Pittsburgh on Saturday and beat a Penguins team that is fighting for a playoff spot.
That said, it's still been a miserable season for Calgary, which made it to the second round of the playoffs last year. The win over the Pens improved the Flames' record to 2-9-1 in the last 12 games.
28. Edmonton Oilers (last week: 30)
Connor McDavid is adding some late intrigue to the Calder Trophy race, with the rookie entering Sunday with 34 points in 30 games, including points in eight of the previous 10 contests. That is about all Edmonton Oilers fans have left to keep them interested the rest of this, another lost season.
The Oilers managed to get a third-round pick for defenseman Justin Schultz at the trade deadline from Pittsburgh.
27. Winnipeg Jets (last week: 25)
The Winnipeg Jets remained in shouting distance for last overall, which would yield them the best chance at Auston Matthews with the first pick. But the Jets are just good enough to probably disappoint their fans who are hoping for a tank job the rest of the way.
The Jets officially became sellers at the trade deadline with the dealing of captain Andrew Ladd back to Chicago.
26. Buffalo Sabres (last week: 26)
Buffalo News Sabres beat writer Mike Harrington blasted coach Dan Bylsma in a column last week, questioning, among other things, his use of rookie Jack Eichel on the power play.
"Deployment is an issue. Bylsma is mostly keeping the same alignments, which leaves Jack Eichel and Evander Kane on the wrong sides," Harrington wrote. "The easy fix is for Eichel to shift to the half-wall on the left side, his off wing, so he can be set up for one-timers in the same vein as Alex Ovechkin or Steven Stamkos."
It's a fair point. Right-handed shots are best served for one-timers on the left side, based on a wider circumference with which to face a pass. And vice-versa for lefties such as Kane