- Atlanta- The aforementioned Thrashers are clearly in the tank having won a mere 2 games in the past 3 weeks. If not for their resident super star Ilya Kovulchuk, who now has 50 goals, they'd probably be winless, and have zero fans left. Amazingly in the midst of this downward spiral and despite for calls by many, including us, that Don Waddell needs to be fired, amazingly their current owner decided NOW was the time to give the incompetent boob a vote of confidence. If we were fans of the team, we'd now be worried that our team was being run by someone not in close touch with reality. Continued bad times are probably ahead in Atlanta. Bets now being taken of how long until the city losses its NHL franchise(again)
- Islanders- Another Eastern team that may help (in a bad way) determine who makes the playoffs/ascends playoff position down the stretch. After a wonderful run the first 2/3 of the season the Isles lack of scoring, a few injuries and in-house feuding have taken its toll. Like Atlanta, they have only 2 wins the past 3 weeks and a mere 4 points (Atlanta has 7). Nolan and co. have apparently run out of gas a few strides before the finish line. Allowing their opposition to skate away with relatively easy 2 points nightly. Its the first Chinks in the Nolan armour that we've seen. Also thus far the call-ups/kids have not been all that impressive. (Okposo has only has played one game) Ironically they are likely to finish where many (including us) anticipated; at or near the bottom
- LA- Have been near or at the bottom of whole season. Briefly (when Robert Blake got hurt and appeared about to be traded) the Kings went on a mini tear (for them), only to return to their previous habit of losing thereafter. Two wins in the past 3 weeks SHOULD as we wrote previously, doom Marc Crawfords chances of returning. It also SHOULD give Lombardi pause in trying to retain Blake beyond this season. They may also want to get an NHL goalie to start next year.
- St. Louis- Unlike the other listed teams, this one is indeed a surprise. We, and many others, saw the Blues as having turned the corner on their past poor performances. However the past month or so they have returned to their losing ways going an abysmal 2-7-1 in their last 10 games. Other than the Kings, if we were a Western Conference team in need of points we'd want to see St Louis right now. It appears that John Davidson and co. have a lot more work cut out for them than some previously thought. It may also cost Andy Murray his job
- Edmonton- With 5 points separating them from the 8th spot its unlikely the Oil will make the posts season, but we are impressed that instead of giving up (like the above teams) they have played themselves back into the playoff race with 8 wins in their last 10. Despite their injuries McTavish's sextet is no pushover and should be proud of the job they've done. Craig has earned another season behind the bench
- Toronto- Were given up for dead a few weeks ago after the trade deadline. The Toronto media had them buried even before that. It seemed that the team puled together after the deadline and made a late rush to try to make the post season. Albeit probably too late. Its also helped that Vesa Toskala has played brilliantly for them. It gives the team at least one less position to worry about next season.
- Columbus- The Jackets seemed to fade around the All-Star break, probably dooming their playoff hopes, but they still have refused to die and go away like the above teams have. Coach Hitchcock deserves credit to not allowing his team to fold up its tent and go home, but play hard/compete nightly. Hopefully for their fans this means better days are ahead in Columbus
- Florida- A big surprise to us until we did some research and discovered this is the panthers M.O. the past few seasons: Play like crap/mediocre all year then get hot in March and fall short of the playoffs(again). They are probably still in it, but they will need a lot of help AND stay as hot as they've been lately(Winning 7 strait). Its also probably enough to save Jack Martin's job.
4) One would think, Thank God that they have the draft lottery, else these down ward spirals would be looked upon suspiciously. Certainly a team wouldn't intentionally lose because even the 30th place finisher only has a 40% chance at getting the 1st overall pick, right?. However, it can't be overlooked that only finishing in the bottom 5 gives a team a shot at that pick. (A team can't move up more than 4 slots if they win the lottery so the 6th worst team can't pick higher than 2nd)
5) We're NOT saying that any of these teams are intentionally tanking it for a pick. (Ironically the Oilers have incentive to NOT suck. They traded this years 1st round pick to Anaheim as part of the Penner compensation). However, our position, though radical and controversial, would eliminate all possible doubt, and no longer reward failure/incompetence. That is do what was done in the 'Crosby sweepstakes (2005 draft). Have ALL teams' draft order determined equally by a lottery. It would b a great/exciting show, like then, to have every team a chance at the 1st pick, and it eliminates once and for all any chance that teams would be disincentivized from playing their best/best players at all times!