More than a quarter of the NHL season has been played. Teams like the Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, and New York Islanders have exceeded expectations. Others, on the other hand, have not. The NHL Fan Vote, for the All-Star Game, is underway as well. Here is a look at the ten worst teams in the NHL. Note: the Florida Panthers are NOT on this list!!!!
21. Ottawa Senators (11-11-5) [3-6-1 in last ten]
The Senators have fired their coach Paul “Shake it off” McLean, a former Jack Adams Award Winner in his first year at the helm. According to the GM, the team has lost faith in their coach and were not believing in the system. Couple that with the lack of veteran leadership, and shaky goaltending at times, the young Sens definitely needed a change of voice in the locker room. Their interim coach, Dave Cameron, is a respected coach who is accomplished in the junior ranks. The Senators also need more secondary scoring, and their defense to step up. They have a solid foundation, it should not take long before the team is in the playoffs again.
22. New Jersey Devils (11-13-5) [3-4-3 in last ten]
The Devils should have beaten the Chicago Blackhawks last night. The Blackhawks did not play their best game and were lucky that Patrick Kane is a beast in the shootout. The team could also have as many as three more victories, if they could have done the same as last night. Jaromir Jagr is providing age-defying leadership, and the rest of the team seems to following suit. They need everyone to get healthy and for the team to then gel. Their young players are starting to understand what their coach wants out of them.
23. Dallas Stars (10-13-5) [4-5-1]
The Stars were a “sexy” pick to take the next step towards attempting to give Dallas their first Cup. But, they are still lacking some secondary pieces, their defense is not performing the way it should, and for some reason, they cannot get victories. Despite having Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, the Benn brothers, Valeri Nichuskin, Jason Demers, and John Klingberg this team cannot get the job done. There is still more than half of the season to play, so it will be interesting to see what the front office decides to do. They need the defense, total team defense, to help out Kari Lehtonen.
24. Colorado Avalanche (9-13-6) [4-5-1]
Remind me if you heard this before: the Avalanche will take a step back this year. Now, I knew that they would not be as good as last year, but I did not think they would perform this poorly. Part of the reason is that Semyon Varlomov, who had a beast of year last year, cannot stay healthy. The other part is the style of play. The Avs rely too much on their defense and they need to attempt to attack more. This will take pressure of their goaltending and give their stars an opportunity to shine. Rumors are that the front office understands that they need to upgrade their defense and they are probably going to have to trade Ryan O’Reilly in order to do it. If Varlomov cannot stay healthy, the will also have to attempt to make a decision on their goaltending.
25. Philadelphia Flyers (9-13-5) [2-5-3]
When your GM has to come down and yell at you, you know that you are not playing well. And when the GM gives you the “dreaded” vote of confidence, changes could be afloat. The Flyers just seem to be a mess. They have talent, do not get me wrong, they just look like a team without a direction. Surprisingly, goaltending is not the problem. Steve Mason and Ray Emery are solid and they need more secondary pieces, sensing a theme with the bottom ten?
26. Arizona Coyotes (10-15-3) [3-game losing streak]
Goalie Mike Smith is not playing like a number one, their defense hangs this team out to dry, and the same defense makes too many bone-head mistakes. The team has talent, and they also have a great coach in Dave Tippett. It remains to be seen how long Mike Smith keeps Tomas Greiss out of the crease. And it also remains to be seen how long they keep some of their players. The Coyotes, under new ownership, need to show that they deserve the team in the desert and are able to attract talent to the arena.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets (10-15-2) [4-game winning streak]
The Jackets are starting to find their grove, and hopefully they will climb off of this list. They have the pieces in place to be so much better than this. But, I think the way the front office handled this offseason, the various contract disputes, took its toll on the team. The players want to know that they will be rewarded for their success and want to know that the front office believes in them. They way they handled the Ryan Johansen contract is part of the reason for this slow start. Hopefully this is not too much of a hole to dig out of.
28. Buffalo Sabres (10-16-2) [7-3-0]
The Sabres got an amazing performance from Jonas Enroth, earning his first shutout of the season against the LA Kings. The team is going to be methodical in their approach to rebuild this franchise. They have tons of talent in college, juniors, and in the AHL, and they know they cannot rush any of their prospects. They also know that Conor McDavid and Jake Eichel are two “franchise-altering” prospects that sit atop the 2015 Draft Boards. The front office has a plan, and understands that the next couple of years are going to be tough for the franchise and its fans.
29. Carolina Hurricanes (8-16-3) [3-7-0]
The Canes know that they are probably going to have to throw in the towel on this season. Their needs come in the defense and goaltending areas. The defense is not helping whomever is in the blue paint, and they might need to make a few moves in order to help out their team in the long run. They may not be able to pass up McDavid or Eichel for a defensive prospect like Noah Hannifin. They need help, and they know that it might not happen this year.
30. Edmonton Oilers (17-16-5) [1-6-3]
The Oilers are ridicoulously bad. They know that they will be picking in the top three yet again. They know that their needs are everywhere. This is a team that may not win more than 25ish games, and may go down as one of the worst teams in NHL history. There is not much more to say about this team.
Just Missed: New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild, Toronto Maple Leafs.