The Colorado Avalanche are the worst.
That's not a controversial statement. It's not even an insult, really. It's just a statement of fact. This year's Avalanche wrapped up the title of the league's worst team sometime around December, and they cemented that status over the weekend by being the first team eliminated from the playoffs. On Monday, they faced the league's other worst team, and lost to the Coyotes 1-0 in what may have been the saddest game of the season.
But just how bad are the Avalanche? They're not really in the "worst team ever" discussion; in this age of parity, we'll almost certainly never see a team anywhere near as bad as the 1974-75 Capitals, 1991-92 Sharks or 1992-93 Senators.
But what about the salary cap era, dating back to the end of the 2005 lockout? That's a tougher call. You could make a case on either side of that one, so let's break it down five ways to see where we end up.
1. The wins and lossesThat's what matters, right? The NHL is all about whether you win or lose. Well, that and how often you lose but it's close so you still get credit for half a win for reasons nobody fully understands. But yeah… wins and losses.
Right now, the Avalanche are sitting at 19-46-3 for 41 points through 68 games. That's good for a points percentage of just .301, which ranks dead last among all teams in the cap era. It's not even all that close; the next worse team is the 2013-14 Sabres, at .317, followed by the 2014-15 Sabres (.329) that same year's Coyotes (.341), and the 2006-07 Flyers (also .341).
In fact, it may be even worse than it looks. Generally speaking, bad teams tend to get worse as the season goes on. That's partly because they have nothing to play for, and partly because they typically ship veterans out at the deadline and ice a weaker lineup down the stretch. The Avalanche didn't do much of that for some reason, but it would seem optimistic to expect them to suddenly hit their stride now that they're already the laughingstock of the league.
What's worse, the schedule won't do them any favors. They face the Red Wings in back-to-back games this week – remember when that was a rivalry? – then close the season with 11 of 12 against playoff teams. They'll see a lot of backup goalies over that stretch, and it would only take a handful of unexpected wins to nudge them out of 360th spot in the cap era standings, but right now it isn't looking good.
Verdict: Score this one solidly in the "Avalanche are the worst" column.