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The Big Question: Which team is the biggest disappointment?

Dec 26, 2011, 5:36 PM EDT

Blue Jackets Getty Images

The Big Question will be a weekly feature on PHT where we ask a question, provide some background and ask you, the reader, to weigh in with your opinions.

Today’s question: Which NHL team is the biggest disappointment at this point in the season?

Three candidates to get things started:

Buffalo Sabres (16-15-3, 11th in the Eastern Conference) – Committed a ton of owner Terry Pegula’s money over the summer, acquiring Robyn Regehr from Calgary and adding free agents like Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino. So far the investment hasn’t paid off. Besides Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek, it’s hard to find a Sabre that’s played particularly well. A lack of team toughness and inconsistent goaltending from Ryan Miller are two subjects that have been much talked about.

Washington Capitals (17-14-2, 10th in the East) – Started out with seven straight victories, went in the tank, saw their coach get fired, and now just seem to be treading water. Like the Sabres, the Caps made a number of moves in the offseason, adding gritty forwards Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer, veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik, and goalie Tomas Vokoun. Of course, much of the payroll remains tied up in Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin, two ultra-talented forwards that aren’t producing like they should. Making matter worse, the team’s top defenseman, Mike Green, has missed most of the season with injuries.

Columbus Blue Jackets (9-21-4, last place in the NHL) – Another team that jacked up payroll over the summer, the Jackets traded for sniper Jeff Carter and signed offensive defenseman James Wisniewski. The one area GM Scott Howson didn’t address was goaltending, deciding to roll the dice with Steve Mason. Unfortunately for Howson, the gamble was a poor one. It took nine games for Columbus to get its first win, and at that point the team’s confidence was already crushed. No group has suffered more heartbreaking losses than the Jackets in 2011-12. Their latest debacle came Thursday when they blew a 4-1 lead in Nashville, losing 6-5 on a Predators goal with nine seconds left in regulation.

Other “most disappointing team” candidates include Los Angeles, Anaheim, Tampa Bay and Montreal.

I’d have to go with the Blue Jackets, if only because there was so much optimism before the season started. Now their playoff hopes are all but over, and it’s not even January. That’s sad.

  1. bigtganks - Dec 26, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    Does Ehrhoff still think Buffalo is his best chance to win a cup? lewl…

    • blomfeld - Dec 26, 2011 at 10:52 PM

      sind Sie ein Idiot?

      Ehrhoff made a good move and he knows the deal … the Sabres are set to surge in the 2nd half and people like you may be left with nothing more than flipped cars and fires …

      • bcisleman - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:45 AM

        Sorry but the Sabres do not look much like a team about to surge anywhere. They’ll be fortunate to be a bubble team.

      • screecwe - Dec 28, 2011 at 9:53 AM

        That’s funny…they didnt look like they were about to surge last year either when they went from last place to having the second best record in the NHL in the second half.

      • salmon90 - Dec 29, 2011 at 9:18 PM

        oh a riot joke!…that’s brave of you.

  2. oside760 - Dec 26, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    where are my kings at in this?

    • gooterbaby - Dec 26, 2011 at 6:39 PM

      They aren’t in the East coast so who cares…

      • blomfeld - Dec 26, 2011 at 10:53 PM

        you shouldn’t speak so …

    • blomfeld - Dec 26, 2011 at 10:27 PM

      “No ! … I’m not going to do that !”

      Let that be our reply friends, whenever a member of Canucks Nation asks us to either start fires or begin vandalizing with them ! :) … in all seriousness, have no worries about the Kings … as a fan and supporter of them sine 1973, I just know for a fact that it won’t be long now before they stomp on the gas pedal ! … Jonathan Quick is “good people” and up front we’re essentially a “time bomb” just waiting to go off ! … if anybody should be worried around here, then that’s the arsonists and car flippers here in Vancouver ! :)

  3. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 26, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    It’s a disappointment that the Sens haven’t been terrible like they were supposed to be.

    • blomfeld - Dec 26, 2011 at 10:41 PM

      Ovechkin is a self-centered “suck-hole” Russian hot dog … he doesn’t impress me for a second and he’s a disgrace to all of the Russian greats who’ve preceded him (ie: Kharlamov, Petrov, Mikhailov, Yakushev, Tretiak, Ragulin, etc … Bruce Boudreau is also a suck-hole for that matter and I’m glad that he was liquidated in Washington …

  4. danphipps01 - Dec 26, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    The Capitals. In so many ways, the Capitals.

    First people were ecstatic at seven straight wins. They loudly proclaimed that Ovi not scoring much at the time was the result of less ice time, a more defensive system, et cetera – and who cares, they’re winning anyway! Which made sense, until the bed was well and truly shat. Fans turned to blaming Boudreau, saying the team had quit on him – but that’s insulting a lot of hard, all-heart players. Laich and Chimera have been giving it all year, playing the best hockey of their careers. No, the team didn’t quit as a whole, and nobody quit on Boudreau in particular. But as I hope is now abundantly clear, Ovechkin’s pretty much quit outright. Not on Boudreau specifically – on who the fuck ever. He’s not improved since Hunter arrived and he remains on a course that sees him on track for the lowest totals of his career – well under half of his peak numbers. Let’s face it, people – the Caps, after investing nine and a half mil a year and the team captaincy in the “Great Eight” and firing the coach more or less because he had problems with him, can’t seem to get him out of the tub.

    Of course, it’s not just him. The sans-Green D corps is underperforming, their goaltending is awful, and Chimera, Laich and Backstrom can only carry the offense so far. Ovi’s not showing up anymore, Semin’s a well-known bust and the organization’s blind devotion to the pair and to Ovechkin especially looks to have doomed them. The four-time Southeast Champions are struggling to even MAKE the postseason at this point and their “glorious leader” is being outperformed by just about half the top-six forwards in hockey. A few DEFENSEMEN are doing more in the attacking zone than him. For a team to more or less invest their whole future in one player and watch him suck out loud is bad. For it to happen all over the ice at once – in Ovi, Semin, AND Vokoun at the SAME TIME – it’s a total implosion. At the start of the year, before any games had been played, people had the Caps as one of the top three early favourites to win the Cup. Seven games in, they were number one. Now, they’ll have to fight to play in the FIRST round, let alone the fourth.

    So, yeah, biggest disappointment so far, no doubt. Hell, you don’t even have to agree with my reasons WHY – they went from “favoured Cup winner” to “struggling to compete with three of last year’s bottom-ten teams in the Eastern standings.” The sheer scope of their fall from grace makes it easy. No-one expected CBJ to be a Cup contender. Nor Buffalo, nor Anaheim, nor Montreal, nor anyone else listed. MAYBE the Kings, but even they’re in much less dire straits than Washington. No-one’s fallen further short of their own and their fans’ expectations thus far.

  5. sjsharksfan11 - Dec 26, 2011 at 7:09 PM

    The Sharks. This has to be the most frustrating franchise. A major overhaul is needed but will never happen. Mclellan fails to adjust the system in which the entire league has figured out. Add that to the horrendous penalty kill and power play. It’s a recipe for disaster

    • canadianclippers - Dec 29, 2011 at 8:30 PM

      Yeah, I think you’re right. Watching last night’s game, it’s clear they have big talent across the board but they just don’t seem to have heart. That was good for the Canucks, but gotta be frustrating for Shark fans. Joe just seems to be sleepy, no fire.
      And the special teams, yeesh.

  6. zonedogz - Dec 26, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    The Sabres without a doubt! Pegula comes in, throws a ton of $$$ into the team, gives the GM & Coach extensions
    AND redoes the locker room. What does that get him?
    The same old soft lackluster team with no heart.

  7. emperor83 - Dec 26, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    Doesn’t help when some players and teams can get away with whatever they want and other teams (like Columbus and Buffalo) tend to get OVERpunished. I’ll bet any money that even though the one idiot for the Caps accidentally drove his own stick into his own chest(with help from the board), the closest Sabre to him will get a 5-10 game suspension…

  8. billyhoyle4real - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:34 AM

    The injury bug plays second fiddle to turnover issues in Buffalo which have led to much talk about the future of franchise goaltender Ryan Miller. Key turnovers by Marc-Andre Gragnani and Christian Ehrhoff have provided the opposition too many odd man rushes, leaving Miller out numbered. The injuries while significant give the front office a show of what young talent has developed enough to take over next year making high $ contract veterans expendable, ala Brad Boyes and Derek Roy. It will be interesting watching these guys scratch and crawl in to one of the last 3 playoff spots.

  9. wez99 - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    Buffalo Amerks could be the third biggest disappointment at most, teams have been playing majority of AHL players… Leino was becoming more comfortable with the system as he started providing offense with boyes and stafford on the line, while ehroff is starting to show his talents, this team will become a contender

  10. jpelle82 - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    Ducks. too much proven talent to be playing like this. the others buffalo, columbus, san jose, etc made moves in hopes of improving…which rarely fixes the real problem. ducks were pretty quiet in the off season and should have come into this year with a solid proven team. no explanation for it…obviously the coaching change didnt help either

    • canadianclippers - Dec 29, 2011 at 8:40 PM

      Yah, leave the Ducks alone, it’s LA. Great golfing, awesome chicks. Hockey, not so much.

  11. buffalomafia - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    Buffalo always gets & pays top money to either has been players or b or c line players!

    Buffalo should fire Ruff & Regeir now! The power play sucks! They do more passing than peyton manning & brett favre & waist so much time off clock.

    Also Buffalo has @ least 3 guys that shouldnt play in NHL! Kaleta one of them! Takes to many bad penalties!

    Buffalo needs players to score besides Vanek & Pommeville!?

    Miller is pussy whipped right now! Please dont trade him to west coast cause his wife lives there! Trade him to a team that u get equal or better value for him. Not c line players & a 4th round pick!

    Pegula better be watching & be a real owner & clean house! Other teams do it besides Buffalo cause everything is on the cheap or should I say mediocrity just to tease the Buffalo fans! Sorry!!!! But enough is enough!

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