Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The 2018 playoff all-disappointment team

We may be one game away from the end of the Stanley Cup Final. As early as Thursday, the Washington Capitals could end 44 years of misery by finally getting their hands on the Stanley Cup, setting off a wild celebration in Washington and fulfilling the lifelong dreams many of these players have had since childhood.

We’d better get our complaining in while we still can.

So today, before we’re all distracted by that icky positivity, let’s break out the annual playoff-bust team. We’re looking for a full roster of post-season disappointment, which seems like a lot until you realize how many big names we’ll have to cut from well-deserved spots. The NHL playoffs are rough.

Keep in mind, we’re looking for players who were disappointing relative to what their teams had hoped they’d do. This isn’t a collection of the worst players from this year’s playoffs, since there are any number of fourth-liners or depth defencemen who did even less. In a way, appearing on a list like this is almost a compliment, since it implies that expectations were high. Remember that when your favourite player shows up and you want to yell at me.

We’ll start with the position that’s usually the easiest to fill in these sorts of things: those poor goalies. Emphasis on “poor.”


Frederik Andersen, Maple Leafs: To his credit, Andersen helped the Leafs dig out of a 3–1 series hole with a pair of strong games. But they were in that hole largely due to a pair of stinkers early on, and with the series on the line he had a disastrous third period in Game 7. Even when the numbers said he was playing well, Andersen seemed to be fighting the puck for long stretches, and it caught up with him when the Leafs could least afford it.

John Gibson, Ducks: Gibson had a phenomenal season, one that had some observers touting him as a Vezina candidate. But he couldn’t maintain that magic in the playoffs, and it was a big part of the reason why the Ducks went out so meekly against the Sharks. His .889 playoff save percentage was the worst of any goaltender who started the majority of his team’s regular-season games. Granted, that number was skewed by a disastrous Game 3 in which he was shelled for five goals in two periods of what would become an 8–1 blowout, but that was a game the Ducks desperately needed.

Pekka Rinne, Predators: Gibson could have been a Vezina finalist; Rinne will almost certainly win it. But once the playoffs arrived he was inconsistent at best for a team that looked like a Stanley Cup favourite. He had his moments, including a pair of shutouts. But he was also pulled four times, including after giving up two soft goals in the deciding seventh game against the Jets.

Late cuts: Sergei Bobrovsky never came up with the sort of game that would have helped the Blue Jackets finish off the Capitals. Matt Murray and Tuukka Rask both won a round, but neither was at his best.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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