Monday, May 29, 2023

Filling in the roster for the 2023 playoffs all-disappointment team

It’s the third round of the NHL playoffs, still, thanks to a Dallas Stars team that doesn’t seem to want to quit. With the Golden Knights wobbling and the Panthers resting up, we’re almost at the finish line.

Are you feeling disappointed yet?

Probably. Only three teams remain, which means 29 fan bases are experiencing mandatory misery. Certainly, fans of the 13 playoff teams on the sidelines will be looking for someone to blame.

That’s where we come in. Every year, right around this time, we like to assemble an all-star roster of playoff letdowns. It’s our chance to shine a spotlight on some of those players who were curiously absent from the highlight reels when they were needed most.

As always, we’re not mad, just disappointed. We'll be taking at least one player per playoff team. And we’ll build from the net out, the way all great sad teams do.


Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning

Goaltending is weird, man. After spending the better part of a decade as the NHL’s most bankable big-game goalie (including three straight years with long playoff runs where he put up a .920 save percentage or better), Vasilevskiy posted the worst numbers of any playoff goalie with at least five starts. I guess that’s just what happens when you’re facing an offensive juggernaut like the playoff Maple Leafs.

Linus Ullmark, Bruins

From the sounds of things, they’ve already engraved his name on the Vezina. Luckily for him, that award is based entirely on the regular season, because Ullmark became the story of the Bruins’ shocking first-round loss. That’s not entirely him – he was hurting, and fatigue was clearly an issue, so Jim Montgomery probably should have swapped in Jeremy Swayman for a game earlier in the series. Instead, the Bruins rode Ullmark until he started to sputter in Game 5, then let him get shelled in Game 6 before benching him with the season on the line.

It didn’t work, and combined with last year’s performance that saw him lose the starter’s job after just two games, it has to create at least a few questions about how reliable Ullmark can be in the postseason.

Stuart Skinner, Oilers

We always have a third goalie on this team, if only because we’ll probably need one. The Oilers may have wished they had a third option too. Skinner was a great story this year, winning the starter’s job as a rookie and even making the all-star team. But he stumbled in the playoffs, especially against the Golden Knights; it got so bad that some Oiler fans were even asking for Jack Campbell to take over. Goaltending wasn’t the only reason they lost, but it was sure one of them, so we'll give him this spot in a narrow decision over Vitek Vanecek.

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