Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The 20 stages of realizing your favorite NHL team might be terrible

We’re now over a quarter of the way into the NHL regular season. That’s not all that far, and there’s still time for plenty of twists and turns. But we’re starting to settle in, and by now there are certain things we’re starting to feel pretty sure about.

For example, we’re pretty sure that a few of these teams are terrible.

You can’t make the playoffs in the season’s first few months, as we’re often told, but you sure can miss them. And several teams are well on their way to doing just that, with starts around the league that range from concerning (Edmonton, Montreal) to outright bad (Buffalo, Florida, Philadelphia) to historically awful (Arizona).

If you’re a fan of one of those teams, or one of the many other early-season disappointments, it can be a tough time. So today, we present the 20 stages of realizing your favourite team might be terrible. This may not make you feel any better, but it will at least help you keep track of where you’re at.

Stage 1: Opening-night optimism

Ah, opening night. The one night of the year when everyone is convinced that their team will be fine. Like the old saying goes, everyone is tied for first place. But not for long. Soon, your team will have first place all to itself.

Look, is this team perfect? No, of course not. It’s the cap era, so every team will have its share of imperfections, and this one is no exception.

But is it a bad team? No, it most certainly is not. Nobody with half a brain thinks that. They’re going to be fine.

Bring on the season. You have a good feeling about this.

Stage 2: The first signs of a problem

Huh. You kind of thought they’d look better than this. Obviously, you knew they weren’t going to go 82-0-0, and a few losses are nothing to overreact to. But sometimes, it’s about the way that you lose. And you don’t like the way this team is losing.

Maybe it’s the goaltending, or the secondary scoring, or the veteran star who seems just a step or two slower. But once you notice it, it’s all you can see. And if it continues, it’s going to be an issue.

Still, there’s plenty of time to sort this stuff out. In a month or two you probably won’t even remember that any of this stuff was a concern. For now, let’s just put a pin in it and see how the rest of the season plays out.

It’s probably nothing.

Stage 3: Constantly repeating that it’s still early

OK, there’s no denying that this isn’t going well. But it’s early.

And yes, this is the point where someone will start quoting stats about how a team that finds itself a certain number of points out of the playoffs on Nov. 1 or American Thanksgiving or whatever the date is will almost always end up missing out. But you don’t buy that. Most of the teams who found themselves in those situations were bad. This team is good. Or at least not terrible. Probably.

It’s still early. Just keep saying that to anyone who tries to talk to you. Preferably before they even finish their sentence.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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