Friday, April 5, 2024

The power of postive thinking: Finding hope for the NHL’s 11 most hopeless teams

It’s April, meaning there are three types of teams. The good ones have already locked up their playoff spot, and are playing out the string with an eye on seeding and home ice, waiting to find out who’ll they’ll face in the first round. Other teams are still fighting for their invitation, with every game down the stretch feeling like a make-or-break contest where every moment matters.

And then, there are the loser teams.

Sorry, maybe there’s a kinder way to put that, but you know who I mean. These are the teams that have no shot at the playoffs, even with weeks left on the schedule. They’re out, and in most cases they’ve been out for a long time. It’s a miserable time to be a fan of one of those teams – the lottery is still a month away, the draft is even further, you’re not sure if you’re even supposed to want your team to win anymore, and everyone else seems to be having way more fun than you are.

It's rough. And I’m here to help. So today, let’s try our annual-ish exercise of coming up with some positivity for the truly hopeless teams. Using the playoff odds from Dom’s model and Moneypuck, we can find 11 teams that both models agree have less than a one per cent chance at the postseason right now. That’s about as low as we can go, and it means we get to pretend that teams like the Penguins, the Blues and (just barely) the Wild are still alive. You have to be pretty bad to be completely out of it with weeks still left to play. And these teams are indeed quite bad.

Just not so bad that we can’t pump their tires a little bit. Let’s get positive, as we work through all 11 teams in order, from my picks for the easiest to feel good about down to the most challenging.

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