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The Puck Stops Here

Best Non-Playoff Team

It is kind of a backhanded compliment to be the best team that missed the playoffs (it's a lot like being the prettiest fat girl in school).  Nevertheless as I watch the playoffs there are a few teams that look like they have been lucky to make the playoffs.  They managed to fluke their way in after 48 games, but I doubt they would make playoffs in a full length 82 game season.  I look out at the teams the missed the playoffs and see a few that would probably do better than some of the teams that did make the playoffs.  The non-playoff team that I think would have been the toughest playoff team is the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The finished second last in the East Conference.  They only won 18 out of 48 games but I think they would be the best of the non-playoff teams if they made playoffs.  Offensively this team is led by the two highest scorers in the NHL.  Martin St Louis won the scoring title and Steve Stamkos was second.  Never before has a team that missed the playoffs had the top two scorers in the league.  When you shorten the benches in the playoffs the value of talented offensive stars increases.  Tampa doesn't have great offensive depth but they do have further valuable offensive players including Vincent LeCavalier and Ted Purcell.  In fact Tampa was the third highest scoring team in the league this season.

Their problem came with keeping the puck out of their net.  Only four teams allowed more goals than the Lightning.  Tampa allowed two more goals than they scored.  That is the record of a team that should have around half their games end in wins (what was formerly known as .500).  Tampa failed to live up to that mark but I think it was largely bad luck. 

Tampa missed the playoffs for a reason.  A defence of Matt Carle, Victor Hedman, Eric Brewer and Sami Salo won't scare anyone but there are weaker groups in the playoffs this year.  In goal Ben Bishop looks like he will be a solid goalie.  He may be good enough to steal some games for the Lightning and if he is this is a team that could win a series or two in the playoffs.

I think the East Conference is lucky that Tampa Bay missed the playoffs.  They would be more dangerous than some of the eastern playoff teams.  If Tampa does nothing this summer, they should improve because luck was against them this year.  It won't make them a top team but it could make them a playoff team that has a chance to win a round.  They are better than their record showed this year.

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DAN M's avatar

What about Columbus? TB couldn’t even make noise in that crappy division. CBUS barely missed the playoffs and played in arguably the toughest conference in the NHL. Its really a shame we didn’t get to see Bob in the playoffs. I was rootin for the CBUS/ Hawks match-up big time.

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 09:21 PM ET

DAN M's avatar

* I meant toughest division not conference.

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 09:24 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Columbus looks like a team that isn’t very good but on a hot streak behind a hot goaltender.  That is exactly the kind of weaker team that could fluke themselves into the playoffs in a shortened season (and they almost did) but in 82 games I think would fall further back.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/03/13 at 09:40 PM ET

DAN M's avatar

Its the shootouts. They skew things up. I hate em’. If it was my choice games would end after 60 minutes tied. I’m pretty old school like that. Btw I’m not saying I hate the SO because the Wings were terrible in them either.

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 09:50 PM ET

John W.'s avatar

Columbus looks like a team that isn’t very good but on a hot streak behind a hot goaltender.

In the playoffs I’d rather have a worse team with a hot goalie than a team like Tampa who gets scored on at will.

Posted by John W. from a bubble wrap cocoon on 05/03/13 at 09:50 PM ET

DAN M's avatar

Yea I agree totally. Who wouldn’t have loved seeing the Hawks swept out by Bob like we were in 03’ via the michelin man and crew?

Posted by DAN M on 05/03/13 at 09:53 PM ET

Curley's avatar

Excuse me? Columbus is not a very good team? Really? 19-5-5 in their last 29 is really not a “streak”. CBJ won 8 of their last 9 and went 5/6 on the road against the best in the West in their own arenas. CBJ has a lot of excellent 2 way forwards and strong “D” men who play the game the right way. Bob is awesome but he’s not the whole story if you watch their games. They are also the the youngest team in the NHL. Get over the East bias….......Columbus is for real as the East (yum-yum) will find out next season.

Posted by Curley on 05/04/13 at 10:57 AM ET

DAN M's avatar

I can’t imagine being such a fan of a team that’s never won 1 playoff game. Don’t hate me though, curley. I’m the one who gave the jax props in the 1st place here.

Posted by DAN M on 05/04/13 at 11:01 AM ET

Curley's avatar

@Dan M: Don’t the Cubs, Browns, et al have devoted fans? And, BTW how bout those Lions?  Did notice your support so thanks.  Good luck to the Wings. Like when we beat ‘em but always respect ‘em….......

Posted by Curley on 05/04/13 at 12:01 PM ET

DAN M's avatar

Yea well the cubs and browns have existed a little longer but I see where you’re going. The bob move was genius. Wish we had made it.  And THAT’S not a knock on Howard.  And just so you know I hate the Lions.

Posted by DAN M on 05/04/13 at 12:05 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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