Last time, we looked at the most exciting and entertaining teams to watch, now we’ll be looking at the most frustrating. There’s a big difference between being frustrating and just bad. The Arizona Coyotes generally get out-played in every way. That’s just expected now. The same goes for the Colorado Avalanche who are having… let’s call it a ‘difficult phase’. Their seasons may effectively be over, but there are other teams who should be better. Today we’ll be looking at those.
For reasons I haven’t quite figured out, I watch a lot of Hurricanes games, and they always make me angry. On the 4th Line Podcast’s Avalanche Scale of Sorrow, the ‘Canes aren’t the worst. Perhaps one Brodeur out of five? The frustration comes from the team’s performance on the road. The PNC Arena is a bit of a fortress, the Hurricanes won six home games in a row so we know they’re capable of winning games, those wins included Montreal, San Jose and Washington. Carolina’s home form is as good as Boston’s.
On the road is a completely different story. Carolina are 4-7-6. To tap six loser points is something, but to lose 13 of 17 is both poor and difficult to explain. Even Colorado have won more games on the road. The Hurricanes have a reasonable team on paper, and often pass the eye test, but can’t seem to hold it together for 60 minutes.
While capable of controlling the puck well, Carolina suffer from third period collapses more than most teams. 40% of goals conceded (in regulation time) have come in the third period. This has always been an issue, but the numbers are increasing. Numbers and results don’t lie, the ‘Canes are on the road to lower league obscurity. Which is a real shame for the seven regular fans who keep showing up.
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings entered the off-season with the aim of fixing defensive issues, avoiding serious injury problems and figuring out who should start in goal. Now my Red Wings are struggling with defensive issues, injuries and still haven’t figured out the great Howard/Mrazek debate. And then there’s Steve Ott.
The Red Wings’ race for their 26th consecutive playoffs is at serious risk. On paper the team is strong, but on the ice things are frustrating. Detroit’s 13-11-3 record is by no means the worst in the league, but simple mistakes and schoolboy errors make watching the Red Wings tough. Perhaps there’s a weight of expectation on Detroit’s shoulders that comes with 11 Stanley Cups, that the team should be a serious contender.
The system sometimes works, but so often I see opposition forwards exploiting huge gaps in front of the net. Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek are both great goalies but are vulnerable to the odd man rush. Especially with Detroit’s inability to man mark. The team’s penalty kill is strong but Detroit regularly concede early, 22 of 76 goals conceded so far have been in the first period. Often in the first few minutes. When the Wings go a goal down, they struggle to fight back. Detroit’s ability to collapse in the third period is slightly worse than Carolina’s. 41% of goals conceded (in regulation) are in the third.
For a short while the Canucks were kings of the NHL, the last team to go unbeaten. This run would last four games and defeat at the hands of the LA Kings started a run of nine consecutive defeats. Since then Vancouver have gone from a 4-8-1 team to 12-13-2, but are still second from bottom in the Pacific Division. Canucks fans are frustrated, but the team needs to look no further than itself to see why things are going wrong:
Yeah, so that happened. 25 penalties were awarded in the third period of that game, and the video is one example of the Canuck’s biggest problem. This isn’t an anti-fighting campaign but maybe tone it down a bit? The Canucks have 13 fights to their name so far, Derek Dorsett has three, Erik Gudbransen has two. Instead of fighting, try defending instead. Vancouver’s goal difference is -14. The team has demonstrated that it’s capable of scoring goals and winning games, but when the Coyotes are the only reason you’re not bottom of your division, you need to change something.
Fans like to see a fight, but they prefer two points and the win. The Canucks lose on average 10.37 minutes per game to penalties. This isn’t the worst in the league, but discipline issues in a weak team have to be ironed out.
Tampa Bay Lightning – it’s frustrating watching the Lightning regularly beat my Red Wings. Only reason.
Those are the teams I find frustrating, what are yours? Comment below or join in the conversation on twitter.