It seems crazy, but the 2021-22 NHL season is already at the midway point.
After a full season of teams playing in front of empty buildings, fans (for the most part) have been back in arenas, which has added a major element of excitement into games.
The season hasn’t disappointed, as we have had several highlight-reel goals, saves, hits, and plenty more. Some teams have surprised in a positive matter (looking at you, Nashville), and some players have wowed with their great individual play, perhaps none more so than 36-year-old Alex Ovechkin.
As the saying goes, however, with the good comes the bad. As fantastic as some teams and individual players have performed this season, there have been some equally disappointing results. For these three teams, all of whom entered the 2021-22 campaign with relatively high expectations, things have gone far worse than planned.
Given how bad they have been this year, it is hard to believe that the Montreal Canadiens advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last season. While their story was quite remarkable, many questioned whether they were truly worthy of going that far they last year’s playoffs, or if they simply heated up at the right time.
Those questions appeared to be well warranted, but even the biggest critics of this team couldn’t have imagined their season going as badly as it has. They have won just eight times in 44 games, and are the only team in the league not to have double-digit wins. Perhaps even worse is the fact that they currently sit 30 points outside of a playoff spot.
On defence, the Habs have had to play the entire season without Carey Price. However, even a goalie as great as he is wouldn’t be enough to change a whole lot for this team, as they simply cannot score. Montreal doesn’t have a single player with double-digit goals, and Nick Suzuki’s 27 points lead the team.
Heading into the 2021-22 season, most viewed the Habs as a borderline playoff team in a very tough division. That clearly has not been the case, as they instead are now frontrunners for the No. 1-overall pick at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
New York Islanders
Starting out a season on a 13-game road trip wouldn’t be easy for any team, but this New York Islanders club under Barry Trotz has proven in past years to be a resilient bunch. Most expected that would be the case for the 2021-22 season, too. But the tough schedule proved to be very challenging for this group, as it picked up just five wins and has’t been much better since.
After advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals the past two years, the Islanders sit well outside of the playoffs through the midway point with a disappointing 15-16-6 record. Much like the Canadiens, they have really struggled to find the back of the net, putting up a league-worst 89 markers thus far.
The one issue with this team in recent years has been its lack of star talent, but head coach Trotz’s defensive systems allowed them to have success. This season, that hasn’t been the case. Whether this is simply an outlier or what we should expect from this group moving forward remains to be seen, but it has been a very disheartening half-season for a team many viewed as a Cup contender this summer.
Now-former Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman made some significant moves in the summer. First, he acquired defenceman Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets, and then just days later added 2020-21 Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights.
With these moves, it was clear Bowman wanted guys like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to get another shot at the Stanley Cup, and most believed that at the very least they were significant enough upgrades to get them back into the playoffs. Safe to say, it hasn’t worked out as planned.
The Blackhawks got off to a terrible start, losing their first nine games of the season, and were never able to recover. Aside from Alex DeBrincat who is already up to 26 goals, no one on the Blackhawks has been very good this season. Perhaps the most disappointing of the bunch is Toews, who has found the back of the net just four times.
Through their 45 games, they have just 16 wins and, like the two teams listed above, are well outside of a playoff spot. With a new general manager expected to be hired soon, this team could go through some serious changes this offseason.
These three teams made this list due to just how far out of the playoff picture they are. However, they aren’t the only ones who have disappointed.
After starting the season at 16-5-0, the Edmonton Oilers went on a huge slide and are now outside the playoff picture, though they do appear to be turning things around as of late. There is also the Winnipeg Jets, who have one of the best forward lineups in the entire NHL but have just 18 wins on the year.
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Source: Yahoo Sports