clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Part 2: Why Won’t Your Team Make the Playoffs?

Each writer provides two reasons why their team will miss the playoffs this year

Calgary Flames v San Jose Sharks Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images

With each passing week the playoff race is getting more intense in the Western Conference. It is becoming increasingly clear that there will be at least a couple good teams that won’t make the playoffs this year in the West.

With that in mind, I spoke with writers from Mile High Hockey, Hockey Wilderness, Defending Big D, Fear the Fin, Anaheim Calling, Jewels from the Crown, and of course a fellow writer from Matchsticks and Gasoline.

I asked each writer for two reasons why they felt their respective team both would and wouldn’t make this year’s playoffs. I split up the answers into two articles, the first of which you can read here. Today we’ll have why each writers believes their team WON’T make the playoffs.

*Please note that all opinions were gathered last week

Two Reasons why Your Team Won’t Make the Playoffs

Matchsticks and Gasoline - Calgary Flames

from Mark Parkinson

They Can’t Score

The Flames are mired in a ridiculous offensive slump as of late. The Flames have scored 2 goals or less in five of the six losses. The Flames goal scoring success in the 7 game winning streak has gone away and if they have any prayer of playing hockey when the weather is warm they need to start scoring. Calgary is 12th in the West in GF with 137. The Flames top line has produced 56 of those goals. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Micheal Ferland have carried the Flames this season on offence, but they have been streaky (like now). Matthew Tkachuk has really stepped up as of late with ten points in the last ten games.

Can’t Win At Home

The Flames need to buckle down and figure out how to win on home ice. The Flames are 13-13-3 at home and that’s unacceptable. Compare that to their 13-5-5 record on the road and something is amiss. Calgary has 30 games left this season and 12 of them are at home. The Flames have dropped their last 5 of 6 at the Saddledome in maddening fashion by blowing leads. The Flames have Vegas, San Jose, Anaheim, and Boston at the Dome before the season ends, just to name a few. The Western Conference does make a significant dent in that schedule and Calgary will need to find a way to make their home rink tougher on their opponents. Also, STOP THE WAVE.

Mile High Hockey - Colorado Avalanche

from Tom Hunter

Goaltending

When the Avalanche went on their their 10-game winning sreak, a lot of it was thanks to Jonathan Bernier. Semyon Varlamov went down with a lower-body injury and Bernier was able to step in and play like one of the best goalies in the NHL. Over the run, Bernier had a .950+ sv% and was able to make up for the fact that the team was getting outshot most nights. The problem is that this play isn’t sustainable. Until themonth of January, the Avs were getting goaltending that was below league average, if things go back to the way they were for the first three months of the season, Colorado will lose a lot more games than they’ll win.

Depth

As mentioned above, this is a one line team. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen have been playing at a superstar level, unfortunately the rest of the forward group isn’t giving enough to compliment them. The rookies have looked good, but they’re just that - rookies. The line of Carl Soderberg, Blake Comeau and Matt Nieto has done an admirable job of playing a checking role and killing penalties, but they do not provide any sort of threat in the offensive end.

On the back end, Erik Johnson has been a defensive rock. Near the top of the league in TOI and able to play in every situation for the Avs. Add to that the fact that Nikita Zadorov is having a breakout season and you’ve got a very solid top pair. After that they’ve for a 19-year old raw rookie and Mark Barberio. The Avs have a second pair that should be playing as a 3rd and a third pair that should be in the press box or AHL. The team relies far too much on their top-end players, and that’s just something that isn’t done by true playoff contenders.

Hockey Wilderness - Minnesota Wild

from Joe Bouley

Goaltending

This team’s goaltending has been mediocre at best. Unless something drastic changes, Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock will post a combined .917 save percentage with over a 2.5 GAA. That’s not great, and with the Central Division as stacked and competitive, that’s just not going to get them back into the second season.

Questionable Roster Moves

Minnesota’s GM made some questionable moves this offseason and has sacrificed speed and depth for more size and grit. Except grit means diddly squat if you never, ever, ever have the puck. The Wild are dead last in the league in terms of general puck possession, and the weapons they were able to roll line after line, after line last season took a major hit. There is no depth anymore, and couple that with the injury bug hitting the Wild all season long, they just don’t have the time left in the season to get healthy and actually make a run. Plus, with being so tight to the cap, there won’t be a trade coming to provide reinforcements.

Fear the Fin - San Jose Sharks

from Sie Morley

Injuries to Joe Thornton and Martin Jones

Though Jones has returned, he’s been injured twice this season. Joe Thornton is their 1C and third leading scorer. No team is better after losing their top line center and starting goaltender. The Pacific is too close to lose crucial points right now.

Because that’s what the Sharks do

Complacency has been this team’s weakness this season, often losing comfortable leads because they get complacent and sloppy. If there’s isn’t a hunger for that spot all the time, the Sharks could easily lose their edge.

Defending Big D - Dallas Stars

from Taylor Baird

Come From Behind Wins

Dallas is 0-14-1 when trailing after two periods. To make they playoffs, they’re going to have to find ways to get more points in situations like that. Good teams can find a way.

Top Six Forward Depth

While the Stars have a good trio on their top line, it gets murkier after that. They don’t have the depth to have a balanced scoring attack every game. Unless they can find a top six right wing at the trade deadline, they’ll keep losing games in which teams shut down their big four scorers.

Anaheim Calling - Anaheim Ducks

from CJ Woodling

Got healthy too late

This is one of the most competitive Western Conference playoff races in years. Throw in the wrinkle of Vegas to the Pacific and there’s not much room for a mistake. Unfortunately, the Ducks injury woes didn’t resolve themselves until the new year when everyone else in the division started taking off. Given the competition, the Ducks may have been broken for a little too long.

Special teams

The Ducks take a lot of penalties. They’ve been the most penalized team in the league over the past decade. While they’re PK is decent, giving up the amount of man advantage situations with their generally undisciplined play gives any team the ability to do some damage, especially with Randy Carlyle’s system that doesn’t put a premium emphasis on shot attempts.

Jewels from the Crown - Los Angeles Kings

from Eric K.

Good Goaltending may not hold up

The goaltending couldn’t be this good forever. We’ve already seen Jonathan Quick’s save percentage drop to .921 after an All-Star-worthy start, and though a nagging injury could be responsible, we could also be seeing a return to his usual regular season form. Meanwhile, backup Darcy Kuemper has been spectacular in limited action, but his career .910 save percentage indicates a strong possibility of a downturn.

Defensive Depth

The defense is thin. Doughty and Jake Muzzin are an excellent 1-2 punch, and Alec Martinez and Derek Forbort have been satisfactory if inconsistent, but there are tons of question marks behind them. Muzzin missed three home games in January and the defense fell apart; one injury to a blueliner could sink this team.