Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The 2019 playoff disappointment index

The Blues and Bruins continue the Stanley Cup final tonight and yay, wonderful, good for them. What about the rest of us?

After all, it’s not easy to watch other teams (and fans) have all the fun. If your team didn’t make the playoffs at all, then there’s a chance you’ve already checked out. It can be refreshingly stress-free to watch the postseason without having a horse in the race, but not many of us want to hang around outside and stare into the window of a party we weren’t invited to. If you’ve spent the last six weeks ignoring the playoffs and just reloading Corey Pronman’s page instead, nobody could blame you.

And if you did have a team in the playoffs, you’re still furious over how they went out. I don’t even need to know what team you cheer for – I know that you think the refereeing was stacked against you, quite possibly on the direct orders of Gary Bettman, and that the team that beat you are unworthy cretins who didn’t deserve a thing. We’re hockey fans, sadness mixed with rage is what we do.

But not all exits are created equal, and some fans have a better claim at post-elimination misery than others. So today, let’s go through those 14 eliminated playoff teams and rank them from the least to the most disappointment their fans should be feeling right now. We’ll start with the teams that might actually feel vaguely good about their playoff experience, and work our way down to the ones that should still be sobbing.

It should be a real pick-me-up. Let’s get started.

Obviously, you want to win the Cup, and you’ll never be completely satisfied with a season that ends any other way. But the Hurricanes did just about everything else they could have hoped for this year. They made it back to the postseason after a nine-year absence. They rebuilt a fan base in their market, and forged an identity beyond it. They knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champions in a seven-game double-overtime thriller for the ages. And then they won another round on top of that.

It’s not a Cup, but for a franchise that had fallen on hard times over the last decade, it was the next best thing. The core is young, they’ve got their coach, and their fans have been reminded how much fun hockey can be. Once the initial bitterness over a conference final loss fades, it will be hard to look back on this year and find all that much disappointment at all.

#13: Colorado Avalanche

The Avs were the only team that came into the playoffs having lost more games than they won. They weren’t even one of the top 16 teams in the regular season, having finished six points back of non-playoff Montreal. And they drew a first-round matchup against a Flames team that finished 17 points ahead of them.

Given all of that, it’s hard to be too disappointed with how things worked out. The Avalanche didn’t just upset the Flames, they dominated stretches while knocking them off in five games. Then they took the star-studded Sharks to seven before finally bowing out.

Sure, that seventh game included a waved-off goal on an offside review that was nit-picky and maybe even wrong, so there’s a decent dose of what-might-have-been here. But ultimately, a young Avalanche team overachieved, setting the stage for future success. You’ll take that.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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