2016-17 NHL Season Recap – Part 3 – Worst of the Season
Worst of the Year
Their season can best be described as, what the heck was that? They slightly get a pass because in the first few months almost half the roster had been injured at one time or another. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin also didn’t play up to their potential. But this mess began way before the season started. They never addressed their biggest weakness, goaltending. The duo of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen wasn’t really cutting it but they went in with them anyway. They only got worse as the season progressed. I had suggested they pick up Ben Bishop at the beginning of the season. Something they eventually did but not until after the season was over. Here’s betting they will rebound next season but the Western Conference will be very competitive next season.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings get a slight pass because Jonathan Quick went down with an injury for most the season. But they still had a chance to make a run at the end with him back and they didn’t deliver. The Kings are largely a two man team of Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter. Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown were huge pieces during their cup runs but they are mostly nonexistent now. Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll were lesser known but still important pieces during those runs but are no longer there either. Marian Gaborik has lost his touch and Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson haven’t developed into the stars they were thought to be. The Kings have now missed the playoffs in two of the last three seasons. The one season they made it, they lost in the first round. Coach and general manger have since been replaced but this team is showing its age and needs a rebuild. Don’t expect them to make the playoffs next season.
Nashville Predators vs Chicago Blackhawks
There were only two sweeps in this seasons playoffs and this was one of them. I’m pretty sure no one would have predicted that in this series, in either direction. It’s not that surprising that the Blackhawks lost, since the Predators had been building to a good team for awhile now. It’s about the way they lost. In the first two games they looked completely lost, they couldn’t score a goal and they were out hustled on every play. For a team with a lot of playoff experience, opening up like that at home is disgraceful. It got a little better for them on the road but not by much. This was a pretty good humbling for this team. A team that is now showing its age. They did get hosed in Game 4 with the goalie interference that was never called but that only would have helped them in one game.
Worst Game 7
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals
This game wasn’t that bad but there were only three Game 7’s to choose from, so it wins by default. I didn’t really expect the Capitals to win but you expected it to at least be more dramatic. After the Penguins scored in the second period you figured they would win. After they scored again in the beginning of the third period, you just knew it was already over. Ovechkin of course had no points and Justin Williams failed to deliver he’s usual Game 7 heroics. He has now since left the team. But if the Capitals couldn’t win a Game 7 with Mr. Game 7, I don’t see how they will ever be able to win with this core. Ovechkin has now only averaged a point per game once in his last five playoff trips now.
Worst idea that is still happening
We ended up with some really strange match-ups in the Eastern Conference thanks to the new playoff seeding format which is now four years old. Four years later, it’s still as bad as when it was first implemented. We got to watch the second and third best teams in the conference play each other in the first round. The first and second best teams play each other in the second round and the sixth best team draw the seventh best team in the first round and the fifth best team in the second round. But apparently the NHL thinks that’s fair or good for the league because Gary Bettman said they have no desire to change it. But for the sake of everyone, he really really should.
Brian Elliott – Calgary Flames
I actually don’t have a problem with this move as I though it was a great signing when they picked him up. My problem with it is another team just treated Elliott with no respect. While you would like a player to come in and make an impact right away, it doesn’t really work like that with goalies. Elliott struggled at first but found his game later on and was really good. To then get rid of him after one bad playoff series is a joke. Give him another chance. Not to mention the guy they replaced him with, Mike Smith, is actually less reliable. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were looking for a new goalie again after next season.
These only just happened but I can already tell they will be epic disasters.
The Lightning have had their problems in the past with Drouin but he ended up becoming one of their better and more dynamic players. Trading him at the beginning of his career, especially when you didn’t do it when he was being a problem, makes no sense. Especially with the knowledge that Steven Stamkos is so injury prone. If Stamkos ends up going down again this season, the Lightning will wish they still had Drouin. I realize the Lightning had a lot of people they needed to resign and were strapped for cap space but younger players with upside are always more important. As much as I love Tyler Johnson, giving him a five million a year long term deal after coming off two sub par seasons isn’t the the best use of your cap space. On the other flipside, this was a great move by the Canadiens. Every playoffs they get bounced mostly because they have no playmakers to generate any offense. Drouin will help fill that void nicely. If only they kept P.K Subban too. Speaking of younger players that are more important…
After being embarrassed in the first round, the Blackhawks genius move seems to be getting older. As they recently brought back some of their former players from the glory days like Patrick Sharp. While at the same time getting rid of their most promising and youngest player in Panarian in exchange for getting back Brandon Saad. Now Saad is about the same age but his production level is nowhere near what Panarian’s is. Seeing as how Saad wasn’t a huge part of the Blue Jackets, it seems likely they could have gotten him back while still keeping Panarian. If the Blackhawks now expect to go somewhere in next years playoffs they are sadly mistaken. The key is to get younger and better not the opposite.
Playoff Teams with Problems
I said the Bruce Boudreau and Wild marriage would be a disaster and I was right. They epically flamed out against the Blues despite “outplaying” them in all aspects according to Boudreau. That’s a dangerous direction for a coach to take. Because now he’s blaming his inability to win playoff games on everything else but himself. But his playoff coaching style isn’t going to get any better so the sooner the Wild move on from him the better. As for the Wild themselves, Mikael Granlund improving and Devan Dubnyk’s play are the only bright spots. The rest of the team is average at best. They don’t have any dynamic playmakers and Zach Parise has all but disappeared. Eric Staal and Ryan Suter aren’t getting any younger either. I wouldn’t be surprised if this teams misses the playoffs next season.
Author: Alex Mueller
Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.