Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
We talk about how bad teams like Edmonton last year or the Islanders two years ago are. And yeah, they were pretty bad.
But really, I don't think we have a concept yet of how truly, truly terrible this current group of Islanders is. They won four of their first seven games this year ... then earned points in four of their next 18.
Those Edmonton and Islanders teams of the last two years both finished last in the league by decent margins, but they still had 27 and 26 wins, respectively. Is there any way in hell you see this team, which already lost 14 in a row this year, getting 27 wins?
And it's not just that they're not a good hockey team, either. It's that they're honestly the most unintentionally boring hockey teams. They're so not good at anything -- scoring, defense, special teams, goaltending - that they almost make the teams they play worse at them. If anything, the only skill they have is getting teams to occasionally play down to their level to make it close.
It's really easy to pick on the worst team in hockey but I think this Islanders team might be one of the worst I've ever seen.
(Coming Up: Patrick Kaleta(notes) and Derek Dorsett(notes) in a Fight of the Year candidate; Ondrej Pavelec(notes) needs a nickname; Winter Classic wine; Kevin Bieksa(notes) to the Senators; Brad Richards(notes) to the Rangers; Chicago fans find out how running up the score feels like; Habs face a Subban question; Jeff Skinner's(notes) super-shift; the resurgence of Sergei Kostitsyn(notes) and Ryan Miller(notes); laughable Leafs solution; and someone proposes a preposterous Oilers/Devils trade.)
That's 2003-04 Penguins Dick-Tarnstrom-led-us-in-scoring bad, and so, in fact, is the team. Remember how comically bad those Penguins were? Sure you do. A fun fact is that they had the exact same number of points through 25 games (only 15!) as do the current Islanders.
But let's say they catch fire. And I don't mean "catch fire" in relative terms where they win then lose a shootout in back-to-back games. I mean win four or five in a row. They're still on pace to be as bad as the pre-lockout Pens.
And OK, sure, you can certainly make the case that Mark Streit(notes) and Kyle Okposo(notes), two of the best players on the team, have been injured all year. But even with them, this team is still going to bleed goals, since they've allowed 83 through 25 games (3.32 per) and not score any (53 in 25, 2.12). They've allowed four or more goals 12 times. They've scored two or fewer 17 times. If they continue on their current pace, they will allow 272 goals and score just 173. Several teams have allowed that many or more (the '06 Pens allowed 316), but no one has scored less than 193 since the end of the lockout.
These numbers are so remarkably bad that no one short of Alex Ovechkin(notes) or Sidney Crosby(notes) would turn them semi-respectable in attack. And even then, they'd still probably be the worst team in the league.
And scarily, they've gotten worse since Scott Gorton was fired. Through 17 games, they'd scored 37 (2.17 per) and allowed 58 (3.41), taking 11 points (on pace for 53). Since Jack Capuano took over, they've allowed 25 (3.13) and scored just 16 (2.0), taking four points (on pace for 41). How long until Garth Snow fires him too?
They're not that Sharks team that lost 71 games, or the '92-93 Senators. But watch an Islanders game this year and try to argue that this is not an historically and hysterically bad team. I think you'll find it as difficult as watching the game itself.
What We Learned
Atlanta Thrashers: Ondrej Pavelec is having a great season, but perhaps is greatest accomplishment is having "Ondrej the Giant" as the headline of an article praising him. How is this not his everyday nickname?
Boston Bruins: Tim Thomas(notes) was not happy that Phil Kessel(notes) scored the shootout winner against the Bruins on Saturday, but only because Tim Thomas would rather lose an arm than lose a hockey game. When asked if he was bothered that Kess potted the winner, Thomas said, "You know, what's the statute of limitations on talking about Phil Kessel as a Boston Bruin?"
Calgary Flames: Alex Tanguay(notes), at 23 points in 26 games for just $1.7 million, could be the bargain signing of the season. Good work Darryl Sutter, you almost got everyone to forget about the Jokinen contract for a minute!
Carolina Hurricanes: This shift by Jeff Skinner is just ridiculous. If the Hurricanes did send him to World Juniors, Canada would win every game by 50. What a player.
Columbus Blue Jackets: The meanest thing about the Blue Jackets having lost five in a row, the latest being a 7-2 stomping by the Penguins, is that they have to play the Stars, who haven't lost since Nov. 22, tonight.
Montreal Canadiens: Jacques Martin is all about Yannick Weber(notes) playing in place of PK Subban(notes), who was a healthy scratch. Now granted he finished plus-3 against the Sharks, but still, you'd rather play Weber than Subban? Really?
New Jersey Devils: John MacLean would prefer that you keep all comments about how he will almost certainly be fired in the next few minutes to yourself. Please and thank you.New York Rangers: The Rangers are trying to trade for Brad Richards. With all those top-notch prospects and the boatloads of cap room they're carrying, and with Dallas unlikely to be happy about taking on salary given their ownership situation, this is a thing that will ABSOLUTELY happen.
Phoenix Coyotes: The Coyotes will not move to Winnipeg. This is not to be confused with the proclamation that the Coyotes will not move to Winnipeg (May), that the Coyotes will not move to Winnipeg (August) or that the Coyotes will not move to Winnipeg (November).
Pittsburgh Penguins: How ugly was the Pens' win over the Blue Jackets on Saturday? Mike Rupp AND Deryk Engelland scored. Worse, for a while there, it looked like Rupp's goal actually belonged to Eric Godard(notes).
San Jose Sharks: Patrick Marleau(notes) has not been going hard to the net. Todd McLellan with the burn, saying, "We talked a little bit about offensive opportunities and when I see them with his line, I tend to see him away from the net a little bit more." He'll skate with Joe Pavelski(notes) and Jamie McGinn(notes).
Tampa Bay Lightning: Dan Ellis(notes) on the fact that Lightning goaltenders have been absolutely terrible for the last two and a half weeks (29 goals conceded in the last six games): "It's the time of the season when things aren't pretty for the goaltenders." I'll give Ryan Miller the bad news.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Actual real live headline: "With no help coming, Leafs look for improvement from within." Yeah, good luck with that.
Vancouver Canucks: It turns out that the secret to beating the Blackhawks if you're Roberto Luongo(notes) is to not allow any goals. Even hearing Chelsea Dagger once is enough to send his confidence into a death spiral.
Gold Star Award
Ryan Miller stopped 51 of a possible 51 shots, which is the best he could have been asked to do.
Minus of the Weekend
Play of the Weekend
It's not often I put a fight as Play of the Weekend, but wow, Patrick Kaleta and Derek Dorsett. Wow.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
Any time you read a post titled, "NJ - EDM Problem Solve" you are in for a treat. So thanks to you, user "ceeber."
Maybe single people eat crackers. We don't know. Frankly, it's a market we can do without.
- Ryan Miller