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Bulletin-board material: Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup

Apr 30, 2013, 11:06 AM EDT

Jonathan Toews Getty Images

Consider this a motivational tool for all 16 of the NHL’s playoff teams. Prove us wrong, teams. Prove…us…wrong.

New York Islanders. We’ve got a small, but loyal band of Isles fans who comment regularly on PHT. All year they’ve been talking a big game, saying how nobody should be surprised that this team is in playoff contention. Newsflash: the New York Islanders have missed the playoffs every year since 2007. They haven’t been past the first round since 1993. They’re run on a shoe-string because they play in a dump. They trade for guys who aren’t even playing to get the cap hit. They pick up every third scrub who’s put on waivers. Yes, how outrageous for anyone to doubt the mighty Islanders. John Tavares is pretty good, so they might win a game against the Penguins.

Minnesota Wild. Came oh-so-close to a choke for the ages, but pulled it out of the fire by barely beating a dysfunctional Colorado team that’s probably in the buffet line at the Luxor as you read this. Congratulations! The Wild were terrible down the stretch. They went 5-8-2 in April, with four of their victories coming over non-playoff teams. It’s actually sort of impressive that the Wild can ring up such a huge payroll and you still look at their defense and shake your head. Poor Ryan Suter was forced to play 32:54 against the Avs. These guys have no shot against the Blackhawks. None.

Toronto Maple Leafs. The worst team to make the playoffs. And in a related story, quite possibly the luckiest. The Leafs won two games this season with just 13 shots. On average, they were outshot by six shots per game, by far the worst differential of any of the other 15 playoff teams. If it weren’t for James Reimer, they’d be saved the embarrassment of getting blown away by the Bruins. The other day, Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said his team is at its best when it gets over 50 hits in a game. Because actually possessing the puck isn’t important, apparently.

Ottawa Senators. Credit where credit’s due. The Sens did extremely well to make the playoffs given the injuries they had to contend with. And now that Erik Karlsson is back…well, actually, they’re still screwed. You cannot win the Stanley Cup with an offense that ranks 27th out of 30 teams. And remember, the Sens couldn’t score last year either, so you can’t just chalk up this year to injuries. One more thing: since Craig Anderson returned, he’s been nowhere near as good as he was early this season. Mostly because no goalie alive could sustain that level of play.

Detroit Red Wings. It’s kind of cruel the way Mike Babcock has Wings fans feeling good about the defense again, because it’s only going to lead to disappointment. Remember the way Flyers fans convinced themselves everything would be OK without Chris Pronger? “We’ve got Nicklas Grossmann now!” Yeah, how’d that work out? You do not lose Nicklas Lidstrom, bring in a bunch of youngsters and remain a Stanley Cup contender. There’s nothing wrong with what the Wings are doing. It’s their only option. They just have no shot at winning right now, that’s all.

New York Rangers. Did any team do less with more in the regular season? On paper, the Rangers have a pretty good team. On the ice, they have a pretty average team. Or maybe it’s just a team that’s absolutely terrified to make any mistakes because of its coach. To be fair, New York has been decent down the stretch, but everyone knows what’s coming: John Tortorella will play his best players to the point of exhaustion because he doesn’t trust his lesser guys. And then, when the Rangers are eliminated, he’ll say fatigue was never a factor, as Dan Girardi falls apart like the Bluesmobile.

The blues brothers car collapse - Created at yt2gif.com

San Jose Sharks. This will be their ninth straight postseason appearance. Not once have they made it past the conference finals. Why should it be any different in 2013? Tear down this team, Mr. Gorbachev.

Washington Capitals. Did you hear? The old Caps are back! Running and gunning, racking up pretty goals on the power play, and rolling through the regular season. That Alex Ovechkin sure loves to score. What a treat to watch. Um, everyone remembers the old Caps always choked in the playoffs, right? Not to mention, the old/new Caps got 15 of their 27 wins against Southeast Division opponents, none of which made the playoffs. Can’t wait for the “we’ve just got to learn to play the right way” comments in a couple of weeks.

Vancouver Canucks. It was so cute when they beat the Blackhawks last week and everyone in the city thought it meant something. Sorry, but this team is still broken from 2011. Whatever mojo it ever had, the Boston Bruins stole. Fast forward two years and the Canucks finished the regular season with the 19th-ranked offense. Recently, they even had the audacity to suggest they don’t try to score as much anymore. Nope, no more “blowing the zone” for these defensively responsible guys. Do people buy these excuses? God help them if Roberto “Hey coach, I’m kinda getting torched out here” Luongo has to start. At this point, Cory Schneider – he of the “body” injury and four career playoff starts – is their only hope.

St. Louis Blues. That some fans were scared of their team facing the Blues is absolutely hilarious. Fun fact: St. Louis scored 22 goals in its last 12 games of the season. Six of them came against the Avs, four on the Flames, and three on the Rockford IceHogs. What a terrifying team, indeed. The Blues are also going into the playoffs with Brian Elliott as their starting goalie. Which, on second thought, may explain why they play so conservatively. Elliott’s career save percentage in the playoffs is .887.

Boston Bruins. Take it away Shawn Thornton: “I’m a little sick of talking about two years ago. That was a long time ago. It’s a new team. It’s a new chapter. Just because we accomplished something two years ago doesn’t mean it’s going to be automatic.” No, it doesn’t. Especially considering the B’s enter the playoffs with just two wins in their last eight games. They look either tired or indifferent; probably, it’s both. And oh yeah, they don’t have Tim Thomas anymore. It’s almost like some people have forgotten how good he was in 2011. Yeah, yeah, his politics aren’t for everyone, but without Thomas, Boston doesn’t even get out of the first round that year. (Also, the power play still stinks.)

Montreal Canadiens. In case you missed it, Carey Price had kind of a bad April. On one occasion, he was pulled after surrendering three goals on four shots against Toronto. On another, he let in six goals against the Flyers. There were other bad games, too. When the regular season came mercifully to an end, Price had registered an .876 save percentage for the month and Habs fans were in a complete and totally justified panic. “Quite honestly, I like the way Carey Price has been playing this week,” Habs coach Michel Therrien said Saturday, just to lighten the mood and give everyone a good chuckle. Price’s play wouldn’t be such a concern if goaltending was the Canadiens’ only issue. Except it’s not. The forwards are still too small, the team is shorthanded all the time, and defenseman Andrei Markov looks 54, not 34.

Anaheim Ducks. The fact this team started the season 22-3-4 is testament to the role that luck plays in hockey. The fact it finished 8-9-2 in its last 19 is proof that luck eventually runs out. Bottom line: the Ducks are an average team. Early on, they scored a lot of goals and won a lot of games, but it wasn’t because they were dominating their opposition – the pucks were just going in. Seven goals on 26 shots against Vancouver. Seven goals on 25 shots against Los Angeles. Five goals on 23 shots against St. Louis. It wasn’t sustainable. And neither are the Ducks in the playoffs.

Los Angeles Kings. Speaking of luck, let’s talk about quite possibly the luckiest Stanley Cup champion ever. Because this isn’t talked about enough. Here’s what the Kings had to do last year: Finish eighth in the Western Conference. Beat a basket-case Canucks team without Daniel Sedin. Beat an inexperienced Blues side with no Jaroslav Halak and a banged-up Alex Pietrangelo. Beat Phoenix…which was Phoenix. And beat New Jersey…which was New Jersey. In case you missed it, the Coyotes and Devils didn’t even make the playoffs this year. No, it wasn’t the Kings’ fault they got such an easy draw. But they probably shouldn’t expect the sea to part like that again. And even if it does, Jonathan Quick has been downright mediocre.

source: Getty Images

Pittsburgh Penguins. The forwards are good; we’ll give them that. The defense and goaltending? Still highly suspect. As well as the Pens have played defensively at times this season (and we stress the phrase “at times”), you simply cannot ignore last year’s loss to the Flyers when the Pens surrendered 30 goals in six games. That’s not just bad – that’s horrendous. Kris Letang leads Pittsburgh on the back end, and his stat line (5 G, 33 A) is impressive. But what percentage of his production is a product of the forwards he gets to pass the puck to? Would anyone put him in the elite shutdown category? Then there’s Marc-Andre Fleury and his .904 playoff save percentage. In fact, Fleury has had a sub-.900 save percentage in each of his last three postseasons, bottoming out last year at a shocking .834 versus the Flyers. Oh, and has anyone noticed the Penguins are always getting hurt.

Chicago Blackhawks. It’s not easy thinking up bulletin-board material for a team that went 36-7-5 and won the Presidents’ Trophy by five points in a shortened season. But there’s a reason the regular season’s best team usually doesn’t win the Stanley Cup, and the reason is this: there are 15 other teams trying to win it, too. Obviously, you need the right players. But you also need a few breaks along the way. Let’s put it another way: Suppose we were to give the Blackhawks a 90 percent chance to beat the Wild, an 80 percent chance to win the second round, a 70 percent chance to win the conference finals  and a 60 percent chance to win the finals. That’s actually pretty generous, given the specter of injuries and the fact Michal Handzus is their second-line center. Multiply those four percentages and the ‘Hawks have a 30 percent chance of winning the Cup, meaning there’s a 70 percent chance one of the 15 other teams somehow flukes their way to a title like the Kings did.

  1. 13datsyuk13 - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Now is the time we insult your manhood.

    • ravenscaps48 - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      The Ultimate “Haters” Article! LOVE IT! LETS GO CAPS!!!

  2. sjsharks66 - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    This is stupid.

    • micklethepickle - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      Says the bandwagon Penguins fan that uses “sjsharks” as his handle. Were you just upset that it wasn’t another article about Crosby’s Bieber-fever? This was an entertaining article to ramp up excitement over the playoffs beginning.

      • hockeywithdrawal - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:58 AM

        Wow…you can really make anything about Crosby, can’t ya? Silly.

      • ethanmacleod1685 - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:40 PM

        Did anyone see the pathetic one liner written about the sharks, sums up there media attention in one

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:02 PM

        Maybe it’s cuz no one cares about the Sharks and they’re old hat. Didn’t think about that, did ya?

  3. capitalspearljam - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    alot of butthurt gonna be on this one…… go caps!

  4. btlpper68 - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Wow an article not supporting Chicago or Pittsburgh.. Is this real life?

    • jakreidler - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      I wouldn’t say that. They BSed their way through that Chicago segment. By far the weakest argument.

      • hawksin5 - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        Because what real argument is there to make about Chicago?

      • hpfreddy - Apr 30, 2013 at 6:59 PM

        While reading the article I was wondering what rap they would have against the Hawks. I figured they would go after their goalies playoff record and/or experience or maybe their powerplay. What scares me the most about the Hawk’s chances is they have a tendancy to be streaky but they were pretty hot at the end of the season, except after The Presidents Trouphy was locked up, so lets hope it continues.

  5. jpelle82 - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    dont mind it, its a fair article. it’d be different if it was “here’s why the blackhawks or penguins will get upset” or “here’s why the wild and islanders have no chance”….oh wait….

  6. orangandblack - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    This sounds like every conversation I’ve ever had with another fan at the Well Fargo Center. Bashing other teams, giving a million reasons why they’re not as good as our Flyers, and then eventually crashing back to reality

  7. sjsharks66 - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    How am I a “bandwagon” pens fan? Because I cheer for them to win in the east? Who cares?

    I think it is stupid because EVERY team has a chance not to win. Only 1 team wins the cup. So how about an article that says “why your team would win”

    Their reasoning in this article is ” oh this team made it last year, they didn’t win. They wont win this year”

    • eigglesnosuperbowls - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      Seeking approval from a fanbase that benefited from years of failure is sad and shows a lack of charater let them be amonst themselves where they belong they dont want you and certainly no one needs them

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:03 PM

      Didja see that folks?!? WOOOOOSSHHHH right over his head!

  8. hockeywithdrawal - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    I LOVE this article on all counts – well done!

    • steelpenbucs87 - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      Yeah I agree – this had to have been cathartic to right after people on these boards, have taken shots at all of you for biases for basically every team in the NHL (which of course means that there are not biases).

      Well done.

  9. jhuck92 - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    I was scrolling down as I was reading and it was an argument from nothing but rock solid stats. Then I got to the ‘Hawks section and everything was based solely on supposition. Chicago has definitively proved they have the best chance to walk away with the cup this year because not even sportswriters, people who get paid to critique teams, can find a major chink in their armor.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      I think they should probably still play the playoffs, all the same….

  10. bcisleman - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    All kidding aside, the “scrubs’ picked up on waivers by the Isles have turned out to be very good hockey players. Grabs is not only about the fastest skater in the NHL, but he is also one of the best special teams players in the league and a very good third liner. Strait and Hickey have both been great on defense and Aucoin has done well as a third line center.

    And, yes, the Isles haven’t won a series since 1993, but who was that against? A Penguins team that everyone was offering the Isles even longer odds against beating. Plus the Isles have beaten the Pens all three times they have met in the playoffs.

    Isles and Pens will come down to goaltending as will every other series.

    • jpelle82 - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      i was gonna say the same thing about the waiver thing, look at matt moulson – perfect example. strait was a victim of too much d talent in pittsburgh, but he is no scrub and is getting his fair shot now with the islanders. aucoin is still an ahl career guy in my mind though even though he almost broke his career high of 13 pts this season, he just happened onto a team that just doesnt spend any money.

      • source7769 - Apr 30, 2013 at 4:44 PM

        add colin mcdonald in there too

  11. mclovinhockey - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    Great read.

    While I wish there was a better argument against the hawks, the depth down the middle is something that usually plays a HUGE role by the conference finals. I always loved Zeus, but being a 2nd line centre when he is a 3rd or 4th liner is going to hurt the hawks. Might now clip their wings, but it will make it harder for them to fly.

    And in the spirit of competition, I hope the pens (and all other 16 teams) remain healthy. I would much rather see a healthy pens team get knocked out then an injured one.

    Good luck to all teams, just hope this year is fu and like the past 7 years, hope someone who has not won in a while wins.

    • chicagobtech - Apr 30, 2013 at 3:46 PM

      Handzeus is the second line center to win faceoffs. Anything more he can do is gravy.

  12. helladonks - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    So nobody will win the Cup this year?

    • tfaltin - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:53 PM

      Guess not, but the Avs are taking Seth Jones #1 and the Panthers are going to have a 1-2 of Huberdeau and MacKinnon down the middle for the next decade.

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        Ugh, can you imagine a dominant Panthers team? Makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it…

    • steelers88 - Apr 30, 2013 at 5:51 PM

      This is a STUPID article how can you say the Penguins defense has been bad! Their defense this year is way better than last year. Plus we have the most depth in the NHL besides Chicago. I just don’t understand this article.

  13. tfaltin - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Man, writing this must have been fun.

  14. 19to77 - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    So what you’re saying is, you can’t really think of a reason the Blackhawks won’t win it.

    • imleftcoast - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      So what you’re saying is there’s a chance the Canucks win it all. How dysfunctional is Vancouver? We all suspect the team isn’t as bad as it’s playing.

  15. 8man - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Uh granted Thomas was awesome for the Bs in 2011, but they did outscore the Canucks 23-8 in the finals. And there is nothing wrong with the way Rask is playing. It’s everyone else that sucks right now. During that eight game stretch if the Bs manage to get just a couple of extra goals, they are weighing in as the two seed. Rask can’t help them with that. Though if memory serves, he was credited with an assist on one of the goals they did score.

    Yeah, I don’t have great expectations for this team either, but it won’t be Rask that fails them.

    • nhloon - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      Bruins will turn it up, they have something to prove with last years 1st round exit.

      Let’s be serious, B’s players knew the standings against OTT and were OK with taking the 4th seed by way of a loss to match up w/ Toronto. That second seed is a killer for some reason.

  16. kitshky - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    “Who even cares… this Cup’s got a massive asterix beside it anyways, it’s not even a real championship” – says fans of losing teams come June.

    • tfaltin - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      Dont care how long the regular season is. If you win 16 games in the Cup Playoffs, your championship is undisputed.

      • kitshky - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        Thanks for clearing that up…

        I wasn’t clearly mocking the predictably moronic response to losing the Cup that so many of the moronic fans will have come June or anything…

  17. nhloon - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Bruins in the East ! Pens will blow it before the conference finals !

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