Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Let’s all boo the 2020 Playoff Disappointment Team

We’ve finished two rounds of the NHL playoffs. Or maybe three, if you count the play-in. Did we ever decide if that counted? I’m not sure we did. I feel like we all kind of just collectively decided not to think about it, and I respect that.

Either way, a tournament that started with 24 teams has seen 20 of them go home. Chances are, that includes your team. And you know what that means: It’s time to pick one specific player to point at while yelling “THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!”

OK, that might be a bit extreme. Still, blaming an entire lost season on one guy having a bad few weeks is an important hockey tradition, and we’re all looking for ways to cling to normalcy these days. So let’s do it. Let’s break out the annual Playoff Disappointment Team.

We do this every year, but this season comes with a twist. Since we’ve had 20 teams eliminated, that means we can build a 20-man roster using exactly one player from each of the losers. In some cases, that’s going to make for a tough call, since let’s just say a few of these teams bring more candidates to the table than others. That’s OK, we’re up for the challenge. Unlike these chumps.

Get out your torches and pitchforks, and let’s start blaming some world-class athletes for not living up to our standards.


Jordan Binnington, Blues
We’ll start with one of the more obvious picks, as Binnington just couldn’t recapture the magic from last year’s run. In fact, we may as well just say it: He was bad. Not streaky, not inconsistent… bad. His final stat line includes an .851 save percentage and 4.72 GAA. Those are numbers that would get you benched in the 1980s, let alone today.

But maybe most impressive of all, he claimed a spot next to Wayne Gretzky’s 92 goals and Bobby Orr’s +124 on the list of unbreakable hockey records by becoming the first goalie in NHL history to finish a postseason 0-and-5.

Pavel Francouz, Avalanche
This feels like a weird pick, and maybe it is, because it’s hard to find anyone on the beaten-and-battered Avalanche who really played badly. And to be clear, we’re not blaming Francouz for getting hurt. But before he followed Philipp Grubauer to the injured list, Francouz stepped in to start the first four games of the Dallas series. And he was, well, not great. He gave up 15 goals while posting an ugly .862 save percentage, and the Avalanche found themselves in a 3-1 hole that they couldn’t quite climb out of. Then he got hurt, and maybe we’ll find out he was less than 100% during the series. But as it stands, it was a rough ending to what had been a surprisingly strong season by a 30-year-old who’s still technically a rookie.

Hockey fans know that sometimes, your team just loses to a hot goalie on the other side. The unfortunate truth is that it can work the other way, and a cold goalie can cost the better team a series. That may have happened here.


Jack Johnson, Penguins
The Penguins came into the postseason with high hopes, then made a quick exit at the hands of a 12-seed. Not surprisingly, they’ve got plenty of candidates for this squad, and if you wanted to go with a bigger name like Kris Letang or even Evgeni Malkin, you’d have a case. But our spot goes to Johnson, who’s disastrous series had observers tossing around phrases like “fundamentally hopeless”. When your GM has to specifically defend your continued employment after the series, you’ve had a rough postseason.

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