Slipped at the Starting Line: Each NHL Division's Most Disappointing Team
We're already two weeks into the NHL season (honestly, it seems a lot longer) and not everything is shaking out how the experts predicted before the season began.
We have teams that were predicted to finish in first place in their division, and even the conference, wading near the bottom of the conference pool right now.
We have several teams that are struggling, mostly due to their inability to win a game at home.
And then we have teams struggling because, well, they just can't find the back of the net.
This slideshow will go through each division and pick out the most disappointing team from all six.
Like always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section!
Atlantic Division: New Jersey Devils, 2-4-1
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The Devils reloaded to a scary extent in the offseason. They signed Ilya Kovalchuk for the rest of his NHL life, while picking up gritty defensive pieces in Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov.
Yet, they sit tied for last place in the Atlantic Division this afternoon.
There's been a multitude of problems with New Jersey. Kovalchuk's shiny new 15-year, $100 million contract put a chokehold on the Devils ability to make roster moves, so they've played several games shorthanded with as few as 15 skaters (a team usually has 18) at once.
Martin Brodeur and the defense have allowed 21 goals, tied for the most in the Eastern Conference and they've only scored 13 goals in their first seven contests.
Anton Volchenkov, who was signed to bring a much-needed physical presence to the New Jersey blueline, hasn't played since the second game of the season after being hit in the face by a Nicklas Backstrom slapshot.
The Devils are coming off an impressive 3-0 win in Montreal last night, so maybe things are just starting to turn around for New Jersey. The offense, which was projected to be one of the most dynamic in the league, needs to click for the Devils to be successful. Outside of his two shutouts, Brodeur hasn't looked sharp.
Northeast Division: Ottawa Senators, 1-4-1
Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images
The Senators currently sit in last place in the Eastern Conference with just three points in their first six games, and there's a multitude of reasons why.
First off, the Senators offense has been relatively nonexistent. They've scored 12 goals on the season, and several of the players they rely on for offense haven't been contributing. Daniel Alfredsson has one goal. Jason Spezza, although he has four assists, has just one goal as well. Alexei Kovalev doesn't have any.
Ottawa's starting goaltender, Pascal Leclaire, injured his groin, which forced Brian Elliott into action as the starting goaltender. He posted a 4.62 GAA in his first three games started, including nine goals given up in the past two combined. Leclaire wasn't great in net either, going 0-2-1 with a 3.24 GAA before going on the shelf.
The Senators weren't expected to be great, but they certainly weren't expected to be awful. If the offense can light up the lamp more than they have, and Ottawa can get some more consistent goaltending in the crease, they'll be OK. But if neither of those happen, there's going to be a lot more 1-4-1 marks for Ottawa when looking at six-game samples of their schedule.
Southeast Division: Carolina Hurricanes, 3-3-0
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
This is tough, because there's no team in the Southeast that's playing awfully right now, but to be honest, I was expecting a bit more out of Carolina.
Last season, a 14-game losing streak put the 'Canes hopes away pretty early.
But they stormed back in the second half and would have made the playoffs if that losing streak had been just a few games shorter (they went 25-17 after January 1).
I was expecting Carolina to storm out of the gate this season after being the embarrassment of hockey for the first few months last year, but that hasn't happened.
Cam Ward has been a little shaky, allowing three goals or more in three of his first four games. He rebounded with a fantastic 41-save performance in San Jose on Tuesday night.
However, goals against are to be expected when too many shots are allowed. Carolina allows almost 35 shots per game right now, which is way too high. In comparison, Florida allowed 34 shots per game last year, and that led the league. For Carolina, or any team, to be successful, the shots need to be kept at a minimum.
If the Hurricanes can start blocking shots and let Ward relax a bit in the crease, the Hurricanes should improve. If not, it might be a long year—again.
Central Division: St. Louis Blues, 2-1-2
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Blues are probably disappointed, but for a different reason than playing poorly (because they're really not).
The Blues, who didn't make the playoffs last year and haven't made it out of the first round since 2002, could be sitting at a league-best 5-0-0 record right now and be the story of the league.
The Blues began the season by winning their first two games in Philadelphia and at home against Anaheim, respectively.
Then, the Blues lost three straight one-goal games to sit at their current record of 2-1-2, and all three games were winnable. They lost their first, against Nashville, by just one goal after recovering from a sloppy first period where they allowed three goals. Their second was to the Dallas Stars in a shootout, and they lost their third and most recent one-goal game to Chicago in overtime after giving up a late two-goal advantage.
This isn't to say the Blues have played poorly, because they really haven't. The defense has been solid, and the goaltender tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Ty Conklin has been steady.
But to say the Blues are happy with their 2-1-2 record would be a false statement, because they could easily be a lot better.
Northwest Division: Vancouver Canucks, 2-3-2
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Many experts thought this would be the best Canuck team we've seen in a while.
Well, that hasn't been the case yet. Vancouver currently sits in fourth place in the Northwest Division with a 2-3-2 mark.
You certainly can blame the offense (only 15 goals in seven games), but you certainly can't blame the Sedin twins. Daniel Sedin has seven goals, while Henrik Sedin already has nine assists.
By now, we know how the Canucks work. Their blue line was upgraded significantly in the offseason with additions such as Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard. Obviously, Roberto Luongo is in net.
But if the offense is 100 percent dependant on the Sedin twins, they will be in trouble, like they have been in the first couple of weeks. Forwards like Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler need to start contributing in order for the Canucks to start winning.
Pacific Division: Anaheim Ducks, 3-4-1
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Yes, I understand that Anaheim had a big win in Philadelphia last night.
But that doesn't override the fact that so far, Anaheim's defense has been dreadful.
They've allowed 39.9 shots a game(!) and allow almost three and a half goals per contest.
The offense is crafted with talented forwards like Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. But no team is going to make the playoffs or win games consistently at any level by allowing 40 shots a game. Well, my fantasy team might if I have Jonas Hiller racking up points on all these save opportunities for me, but that's a different story.
Their defense has been called "makeshift" at times and is a big reason why all these shots are being allowed. The defense needs to buckle down, because no matter how offensively talented the forwards may be, Anaheim won't win very often giving up 40 shots every night.