2013 NHL Season: 10 Biggest Disappointments
10 Biggest Disappointments of the 2013 NHL Season
With the 2013 NHL season coming to a close, fans are feeling many different things. Some are excited about the opportunity to compete for hockey's biggest prize, the Stanley Cup, while others are wondering where things went wrong. In this slideshow, I'll be taking a look at the 10 biggest disappointments of this shortened season based on what was expected and how they ended up faring.
Whether it be key injuries, coaching changes or something entirely different, there was a reason behind these teams and players falling far short of expectations. Why did the always-dangerous New Jersey Devils, led by future Hall of Fame netminder Martin Brodeur, not make the dance? How is it possible for the Tampa Bay Lightning to boast a two-time Rocket Richard trophy winner and, quite possibly, the top-two point scorers in the league not even come close to earning a playoff berth?
Goaltending, health and luck certainly played a role. Yet, weren't the only reasons these teams and players couldn't get where they so badly wanted to. Sometimes leaders must step up and shoulder the weight of an underperforming team or even player, something which obviously didn't happen at times this season.
Since the NHL had plenty of disappointments, more so with a truncated season, some of yours may not have made the cut. That being said, I feel like I made the best possible selections given the criteria used and circumstances. Anyways, I hope you all enjoy this and let's hope next season's better!
Tampa Bay Lightning
After a sizzling hot 6-1 start, the Tampa Bay Lightning completely fell off the map. That ended up costing head coach Guy Boucher his job in late March. However, things weren't much better under new coach Jon Cooper, as the team's lost nine of their past 11 games heading into Saturday nights finale. With offensive talent like two-time Rocket Richard trophy winner Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, who's poised to become the oldest Art Ross trophy champion at nearly 38 years old, it's hard to imagine how the Bolts managed to finish in the league's bottom three teams. Of course, the goaltending duo of Anders Lindback and Mathieu Garon, along with their bad defense, didn't give that offense much of a chance when games got tight. No matter how one looks at it, the Lightning just couldn't win when they needed to most, thus ending their 20th anniversary season with bitter disappointment.
After dispatching the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins early in last season's playoffs, many expected the Philadelphia Flyers to again contend for a division title. Certainly, no one thought they'd end up near the Eastern Conference basement, but they did. There were many reasons for this, from Ilya Bryzgalov's struggles to Scott Hartnell's injury which cost him time early on. Yes, the Flyers lost lots of defensive depth with Matt Carle and James Van Riemsdyk signing elsewhere, plus Chris Pronger's ongoing concussion issues. However, their play on the back end wasn't god awful considering everything they lost and how awful their offense was. Danny Briere was horrible for a top-line guy, producing only 16 points and a minus-14 rating in 33 games. He wasn't the only one struggling though, as young forward Sean Couturier put up 15 points and a minus-8 rating in 45 games. That's not something people see often from the Flyers who usually find a way to hang with every single team, thus making this season a disappointment for everyone wearing the orange and black.
New Jersey Devils
For a team that made it to Game 6 of the 2012 Stanley Cup finals and returning future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, it's hard to fathom the New Jersey Devils missing a postseason. That's what happened in 2013 though, as Brodeur didn't completely live up to expectations and his offense wasn't top-notch. Granted, he and talented forward Ilya Kovalchuk both missed time because of injuries, but that doesn't change where they sit today--on the outside looking in. Last season's playoff hero Adam Henrique struggled mightily in his sophomore campaign, with just 16 points in 41 games played. Another thing which proved costly was backup Johan Hedberg's 6-9-3 record and .886 save percentage while Brodeur was out. Regardless of the circumstances, the Devils should still be fighting for a playoff berth. However, they aren't and that's disappointing for a team that almost won hockey's greatest prize last season.
Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak
It's hard to find something disappointing about a playoff bound team, but the St. Louis Blues goaltending duo of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak didn't totally live up to expectations. Last season, they teamed up to win the William M. Jennings trophy, allowing the third lowest amount of goals in NHL history. However, this season saw Halak struggle, with a 6-5-1 record and .899 save percentage. Elliott, on the other hand, wasn't god awful, piecing together a 13-8-1 record that kept St. Louis firmly in the Western Conference playoff race. Now, whether they go far depends on if Halak can regain the form he had prior to this season.
Considering last season's playoff success and the return of captain Shane Doan, many people believed the Phoenix Coyotes would not only return but also make noise in the 2013 postseason. However, injuries reared their ugly head and the netminding of Mike Smith wasn't top-notch, causing the Coyotes to just barely miss out. Speaking of Smith, he dealt with his own health issues, something that likely contributed to his subpar .912 save percentage. His backup, Jason LaBarbera, didn't fare much better though, with a 3-6-2 record in 14 games played. In the end that wasn't enough, causing the Coyotes to wonder what they should have done differently.
After acquiring two of last season's biggest free agents in Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal, everyone thought the Carolina Hurricanes would contend for the Southeast Division and a Stanley Cup. They started out well, leading the Southeast Division throughout February and early March before completely falling off. Yes, Jeff Skinner again missed time due to concussion issues and Cam Ward ended up shelved for the season, but that shouldn't have stopped them. It did though, as both Dan Ellis and Justin Peters regularly gave up over three goals a game. Of course, Carolina's record with those two in net was a combined 10-18-3. I'm just guessing here, but wouldn't that be among the league's worst? If so, then it's no wonder the Canes are finishing pretty far out of the playoff race.
Coming off a season where they came within one goal of advancing to the second round of the 2012 playoffs, many people thought the Florida Panthers would be contenders throughout. They weren't, however, and injuries played a big role in that. Sean Bergenheim never played, having suffered an injury overseas, and Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg, Jose Theodore and numerous others missed much of the season. That being said, Shawn Matthias had a breakout year with 14 goals and 21 points, while rookie Jonathan Huberdeau's 28 points should earn him the NHL's Calder Trophy. If they can stay healthy next season the Panthers will be a team to keep an eye on, but for now they're just a major disappointment.
Even though the Boston Bruins are still battling for their division's crown, Milan Lucic has been nothing short of disappointing. His six goals and 24 points in 44 games played prove that much. He did get back on track during last night's contest versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, fighting defenseman Keith Aulie, but whether that lasts remains to be seen. Either way, his production is enough to make him a giant disappointment.
After so many first overall draft picks, one would think the Edmonton Oilers might actually make the postseason. They didn't though, thanks to underwhelming performances out of Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle and others. Both players finished with a minus-9 rating, something that needs to turn around before playoffs can become a possibility. Defenseman Nick Schultz and Ryan Whitney must also play better, as their eight and 13 points aren't nearly what veterans should be producing. That being said, this season was just an utter disappointment for Oilers fans and the team.
Whenever people are robbed from seeing the sport and teams they so love, it's a disappointment. That's what happened during the 2012 NHL lockout, as teams were robbed of proper training camps, fans were robbed of seeing the players and teams they love so much and lots more. Yes, there was a season (no thank you, Gary Bettman!), but teams who had guys injured overseas weren't afforded much of an opportunity. For those reasons, the league's latest lockout wasn't just a disappointment but also a travesty.