except for the part where you have a prayer.
The first round of the playoffs is finally over, which means we're down to eight teams left standing. Those teams deserve a round of applause, and they'll get it… somewhere else. Because as long-time readers know, the end of the first round also means it's time for our annual tribute to the 22 teams whose seasons ended without even winning a single series.
Yes, the losers. The also-rans. The teams that, if we're being honest, basically wasted everyone's time by even bothering to show up this year.
Luckily, every loser has an excuse, and these 22 teams are no exception. So while everyone else is focused on the eight remaining teams, here's a look back at what went wrong for the rest of the league.
Anaheim Ducks - Over the last few days, every time Bruce Boudreau started a team meeting by shouting "Let's come up with a plan for finishing off those Wings!" we'd all sit there in the dark for an hour before realizing he'd just gone to lunch.
Montreal Canadiens - Should probably have let Carey Price do the triple-low-five in the playoffs against the Senators, since it would have been nice to see his glove hand actually make contact with something every now and then.
New York Islanders - When coaches urged the team to go out and match the Penguins in every area of the game during their first round series, in hindsight they probably should have made a point to exclude "terrible goaltending".
New Jersey Devils - Never got over the loss of that 29th overall first round pick we forfeited last year, we assume, because man it would have been completely ridiculous for us not to.
Philadelphia Flyers - It turns out that playing Luke Schenn 20+ minutes a night in front of terrible goaltending is a recipe for missing the playoffs, as if anyone ever could have predicted that.
Winnipeg Jets - Everyone agrees that we have the league's loudest and smartest fans, which is tough because you try playing every game in front of 15,000 fans chanting "Wow, this roster is terrible".
Carolina Hurricanes - While extensive travel is difficult in these difficult economic times, might still have to think about someday sending a scout or two somewhere other than the annual Staal family reunion.
Buffalo Sabres - Tyler Myers just hasn't been as intimidating ever since the rest of the league realized he's actually a short guy sitting on another short guy's shoulders while wearing an oversized trench coat.
Florida Panthers - Just couldn't cut it in the ultra-competitive Southeast; sure hope we get moved to a much easier division next year.
Calgary Flames - Finally got around to taking down that big banner reading "Remember, we went to the Finals a few years ago so let's just keep the same roster together until we hit rock bottom" from our dressing room, because it was a terrible idea and demoralized our players and also the Vancouver Canucks need it now.
Colorado Avalanche - Are patiently waiting for that one final step every struggling young team has to take before they finally become a legitimate playoff threat: losing P.A. Parenteau as a free agent.
Washington Capitals - Lost games six and seven after falling victim to a vast pro-Rangers conspiracy among NHL officials. Specifically, the ones who wrote that section of the rulebook about how teams have to be able to score at least one goal to win.
Dallas Stars - Had a room full of guys who were all working towards the same ultimate goal, and nothing will ever match the look of excitement in a player's eyes when he gets pulled into the coach's office and told he's finally earned a call-up to Pittsburgh.
Tampa Bay Lightning - We're a team that needs a top-quality goaltender and our general manager spent his whole career playing with Tim Cheveldae and Chris Osgood, so you do the math.
Minnesota Wild - Instead of irresponsibly spending almost $200 million on unrestricted free agents, should probably have spent a few bucks to retain whichever trainer had been in charge of making sure every goalie in the organization didn't get hurt at the same time.
St. Louis Blues - You hate it when your best playmaker suddenly gets all greedy and stops passing you the puck, but that's what happened with stupid selfish Jonathan Quick.
Phoenix Coyotes - They say that all teams follow the example set by their ownership, so we spent a few months pretending to be working really hard while actually having no intention of accomplishing anything.
Nashville Predators - Were under specific orders from ownership to play so poorly that frustrated fans pelted us with coins, since that's the only way they're going to be able to afford to pay Shea Weber.
Columbus Blue Jackets - Felt kind of bad about ruining all your expert "Blue Jackets finish dead last" predictions, so decided to hold off on winning the Cup for one more year.
Edmonton Oilers - Kevin Lowe responds to any criticism he hears by saying "I can't see you, I have six Stanley Cup rings jammed into my eyes", which would be funny except that's also how he does all his scouting.
Vancouver Canucks - Spent the whole year focused on getting the first goal so that we could play with the lead and wouldn't have to come from behind, only to find out at the end of the season that the NHL apparently has a different definition of "from behind" than the rest of the world.
Toronto Maple Leafs - You know how when a baseball pitcher is just minutes away from a no-hitter or perfect game or some other all-time career highlight that your fans will cherish forever, and all his teammates are supposed to just leave him completely alone? Yeah, it turns out you're not supposed to do that with your goalie.
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