The New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings make for an unlikely Stanley Cup final. While it’s great to see teams exceed expectations, it's disappointing to see favorites fail to meet same. Here we present the top 5 heartbreakers from bottom to top.
Here’s a list of the Top 5 teams that fell way short of
expectations in 2012 after being projected as potential Cup contenders:
Mon dieu! Can anyone believe what happened to the
Montreal Canadiens in the 2011-12 season?
In the 2011 playoffs, the Habs took the Boston Bruins to
overtime of Game 7 and were but one goal away from knocking off the eventual Stanley Cup Champions. Then, in the offseason, they proceeded to add some
scoring and toughness in the form of Erik Cole, which was supposed to be one of
the last missing ingredients.
And while fans were expecting the Habs to become a dark
horse Cup contender this season, the wheels completely fell off the bandwagon.
Not only did the Habs fall short of their goals, they
fell short of the playoffs. As a matter of fact, they were the worst team in
the Eastern Conference. It’s safe to say they fell way short of what they were
expected to do.
The Nashville Predators finally made it out of the first
round of the playoffs in the 2011 playoffs and, on the strength of that
performance, they decided to put some more eggs in their basket for 2012. The
normallyfrugal franchise made a slew of bold moves at the trade deadline to
bolster the lineup in hopes of catching some breaks and making some serious
noise in the playoffs.
The stars appeared to align for them after the first
round of the playoffs after Vancouver, San Jose, Chicago, and Detroit were all
ousted, leaving them as arguably the most experienced playoff team.
But the Predators still couldn’t get themselves together
as they were easily handled by the Phoenix Coyotes. With Pekka Rinne playing at
a Vezina-like level, the Predators had their eye on the Stanley Cup. As it
turned out, they couldn’t even get out of the second round.
3. Detroit Red
Remember the Red Wings 23-game home winning streak during
the 2011-12 regular season? Yeah, I don’t either.
At one point this season, the Red Wings were atop the
Western Conference, en route for a Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage in
the entire playoffs, with an incredible track record at Joe Louis Arena. It
looked like the vintage Red Wings, as if they were ready to cruise through the
playoffs with ease. And then they hit a wall.
No one is exactly sure what happened to Detroit, but the
bottom line is they disappointed. The team that was 41-17-2 on February 19th
finished with just seven wins in their final 22 games and choked away a good
chance at winning the Cup.
There’s always an air of caution when it comes to the
Vancouver Canucks and playoff expectations, but after making the Stanley Cup
finals last season and winning the Presidents’ Trophy again in 2011-12, the
Canucks were expected to be a power player in the Western Conference.
The West was supposedly weak this season. The St. Louis
Blues were a No. 2 seed that had never been there before, the Phoenix Coyotes
were a dubious No. 3 seed, the Nashville Predators were still a questionable
No. 4 seed, the Detroit Red Wings were an old No. 5 seed, the Chicago Blackhawks
were a flawed No. 6 seed and the San Jose Sharks were a challenged No. 7 seed.
On top of that, the Canucks were more prepared this time
around for a Roberto Luongo letdown in the playoffs as backup Cory Schneider
had been groomed through the regular season.
Even so, they were shocked in the first round by the Los
Angeles Kings, who ousted them in just five games. It was supposed to be an
opportunity for the Canucks to repeat as Western Conference champions but, instead, they repeated as playoff disappointments.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were a Stanley Cup favorite in
the sportsbooks virtually all season long. Even with Sidney Crosby in and out
of the lineup, the team still finished with 108 points – the third-highest
total in the NHL – and was expected to be the team to beat in the playoffs once
Crosby was healthy.
The Pens had a lot of things go right for them in 2011-12
as James Neal grew into an All-Star and Evgeni Malkin blossomed into a league
MVP-type player. Even so, the Pens were ushered out of the playoffs in
the first round by the Philadelphia Flyers with ease.
were supposed to be the toughest out of the 30 NHL teams but they turned out to
be a complete postseason non-factor. They were clearly a disappointment.