April 11, 2011
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.
Three teams entered their final games of the season with one simple mandate: win and you're in.
And every one of them managed to barely get up for the biggest games of the season.
The ugliest loss of the three was by Carolina, though that was probably to be expected. After all, the 'Canes were only hanging around at all given the Rangers' complete inability to seal things up down the stretch, letting a mediocre team with no defense to speak of grip tenuously to the edge of oblivion through the sheer force of Cam Ward's(notes) will.
So the Lightning went into Raleigh and the game was done for all intents and purposes within the first 11 or so minutes. It was already 4-0 Bolts when the Hurricanes showed any life at all. But that was pretty much the season in a nutshell: Too many weak team efforts.
In the game, as he did all season, Cam Ward faced a ridiculous number of shots because not only did the defense stink, the offense couldn't effectively hold the puck for long enough stretches to prevent the other team from getting chances either.
It was poorly constructed and poorly coached from Day 1, and frankly, the Hurricanes deserved to be in the NHL playoffs about as much as your beer league team.
The same is true, though to a lesser extent, of the Stars. They just weren't a good team this season. Sub-league average offense. Almost exactly league average defense. That shouldn't get you into the playoffs, and it didn't. That's fair enough.
But to have that type of game against the nothing-to-play-for Wild? That's just inexcusable.
(Coming Up: Sidney sets records even when he's not playing; Alain Vigneault's job status; fare thee well, Adam Foote(notes); why DeBoer was fired; Zetterberg's status; Justin Williams(notes) and Dave Bolland(notes) working back; cringe-worthy Canadiens fan video; Brad Richardson(notes) got beat up by an old dude; Vinny Lecavalier, pillow fighter; getting drunk on T.J. Oshie(notes) highlights; a terrible trade for the Flyers; and ESPN's NHL news fail.)
Try as Loui Eriksson(notes) might, the team just had no interest in winning the game, and instead appeared to have actively tried to lose it. Just look at the goal to open the scoring. The Stars were outcompeted in just about every aspect of that entire play and eventually gave up a goal to Brad Staubitz(notes).
That's three-goals-this-season Brad Staubitz. Same goes for the Colton "Six-games ]-this-season" Gillies goal.
Like Carolina, The Stars just didn't compete like it wanted to be playing that day, and indeed, for the rest of the summer. They got their wish. Now all their fans have to look forward to is watching Brad Richards(notes) leave on July 1. What a time to be a Dallas fan.
So that let the Blackhawks, who at least turned in a feisty performance in their must-win loss, sneak into the playoffs through an unattended back door.
But even after Michael Frolik(notes) opened the scoring, the team seemed to think that was somehow going to be enough to dispirit the Red Wings. If hockey pants had pockets, the Blackhawks would have had their hands planted firmly in them while the Red Wings scored three goals in the space of 15 minutes. The comeback attempt was admirable, or would have been had it not sandwiched that Danny Cleary(notes) goal.
In two games against the Red Wings — either of which would have sealed up the eighth and final playoff seed so that the Blackhawks weren't chewing their fingernails to bloody nubs hoping the freakin' Wild pulled out a W — he went 0-fer with just three shots on goal. That's hardly leading by example.
Yeah, I know, we're all supposed to be thrilled about this coming Blackhawks/Canucks grudge match of a series. But having seen the complete lack of giddy-up Chicago had against their biggest rivals. At home. In a game they absolutely positively had to win.
I'm not quite so excited any more.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: And now Brad Richardson will be able to tell his kids he got punched in the face by a hand that also scored 630 NHL goals.
What a great photo.
Claude Julien probably gave him a little bit of a talkin'-to after this one.
Calgary Flames: The headline says "Flames' roller-coaster season won't soon be forgotten" but it sure won't be for lack of trying.
Carolina Hurricanes: Look for Paul Maurice to catch hell for the 'Canes not making the playoffs. Meanwhile Jim Rutherford will lean back in his office chair, give another mediocre forward a too-big contract and wonder why Cam Ward sent him another email complaining about facing 10,000 shots a night.
Colorado Avalanche: Yesterday was Adam Foote's last ever NHL game. Kind of weird to think about that. So here's a nice tribute video the Avs put together for him.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Wow, the Blue Jackets have picked in the top 8 spots of the draft in every season of their existence but one. You'd think at some point they'd almost luck into winning the division with that many high picks. But then you'd also think the Blue Jackets would be able to stop going out of their way to be terrible, so you'd be wrong.
Dallas Stars: Marc Crawford was probably just trying to keep it fun for his guys the day before the most important game of the season, but when you absolutely need to win in regulation or overtime, maybe you don't practice the shootout. (Though in reading that, I now wish that game had gone to an absolutely meaningless shootout and Dallas had won with ease.)
Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers finished the season in last place and have a really great shot at getting the No. 1 overall pick as a result. This team is going to be terrifying in about three years if it can ever find someone to play defense and goal.
Florida Panthers: Steven Weiss on Pete DeBoer getting canned: "At the end of the day, you need the players. I don't think he had that here, those guys you could lean on to get the job done." Headline next week will be "Weiss traded to Edmonton or somewhere like that."
Los Angeles Kings: Justin Williams is going to practice today and will probably return to the lineup when he tells Terry Murray he's good to go. With any luck, he'll be back just in time for the Kings to get bounced by the Sharks.
Minnesota Wild: Big-time headline writing on the Wild's website.
Montreal Canadiens: Here's one of those music-video-lip-synched-by-an-entire-school things that were all the rage two years ago. Those kids sure love the Canadiens and speaking French and being really bad at lip synching.
New York Islanders: Rick DiPietro(notes) really doesn't appreciate your insinuations that there might be a goaltending controversy for the Isles next season. When asked about the potential three-way tussle, he said, "Who are we talking about?" Oh jeez Rick, I dunno, the two guys who are way better at your job than you, maybe?
Ottawa Senators: Regarding the Sens' coaching search: "The jobs of Claude Julien in Boston, Alain Vigneault in Vancouver, Bruce Boudreau in Washington and Peter Laviolette in Philadelphia are at risk should their teams not get out of the first round." That can't be true, can it? Laviolette maybe. Julien there's an outside chance. But Vigneault? Really?
Philadelphia Flyers: "I think they're more ready than last year's team," said Ed Snider, who is apparently blissfully unaware that the Flyers won just seven of their last 21 games, most of which were against bottom feeders any team with legitimate designs on another run to the Stanley Cup Finals would have dispatched with ease.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Here's a really great stat they featured on the Penguins' game broadcast: Sid Crosby played the fewest games by a team's points leader in NHL history. Crosby's 66 in 41(!) was 16 more than Kris Letang(notes). You can also ignore that thing about Ales Hemsky's(notes) team-leading point total since he, y'know, didn't lead the Oilers in points this year.
St. Louis Blues: Only two players on the current Blues roster were with the team when Dave Checketts bought it: Barrett Jackman and David Backes(notes). The takeover took place prior to the 2006-07 season, so it wasn't even that long ago.
Tampa Bay Lightning: A thing I never wanted to think about: "When C Vinny Lecavalier and D Pavel Kubina(notes) were roommates during the 1999-2000 season, their daily activities included a combination wrestling and pillow fight before turning in at night."
Toronto Maple Leafs: Joe Colborne(notes) made his NHL debut in the final game of the season and didn't look completely lost. The Leafs even have an idea of how to use him going forward, if you can believe that.
Vancouver Canucks: So the Canucks finished with the most goals for, the fewest goals allowed and the best power play. But not the best penalty kill; they only tied for second. What a bunch of losers. Seriously.
Whoever this girl is, she is a genius.
That's Masters-winning form right there. Or would be if Augusta let women within 50 yards of anything they might ruin with their woman-ness.
Minus of the Weekend
Sorry Steelers fans, but ESPN has some bad news for you…
TJ Oshie is realllllllllly good.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User "Rotten Scoundrel" sure is good at hockey things.
Don't quit your day job, Chief. Whatever that is.