Here is a Pass/Fail exercise for the teams that won’t hold Stanley Cup parades next month after qualifying for, and then being eliminated from, the playoffs.
Could the season nevertheless be considered successful, gaining a Pass grade for 2022-23? Or was it a failure, colossal or otherwise, thus earning an F?
That is the existential question, and here are the marks for the 13 teams that had been ousted as of Friday. Giannis Antetokounmpo has not been consulted.
Devils: PASS (With Honors) because: 1) 49-point improvement in establishing franchise records with 52 victories and 112 points; 2) Jack Hughes; 3) Eliminating the Rangers; 4) Eliminating the Rangers; 5) Eliminating the Rangers; 6) You get the idea.
Seattle: PASS for the second-year team taking out the defending champion Avalanche in a seven-game first round before pushing Dallas to seven games in Round 2.
Carolina: PASS earned with respect to the structure and work ethic the ’Canes bring night after night while ultimately undermined by the absence of their most productive forward, Andrei Svechnikov, when structure and work ethic weren’t going to be quite enough.
Los Angeles: PASS even while going out in six to the Oilers for a second consecutive first-round defeat in another transitional season, during which the Kings beat out the Flames and Predators for a spot in the tournament.
Rangers: FAIL because you may not have noticed, but there is a coaching search underway.
Islanders: FAIL in every which way imaginable, except for getting those three gates at UBS, which all turned out to be defeats, but hey, just about everybody will be back!
Colorado: FAIL in going out in the first round as defending champion by losing Games 1, 5 and 7 at home to the Kraken.
Boston: FAIL, as in epically, because nobody but nobody cares about their 65 victories or 135 points after they failed to protect a 3-1 first-round lead, just like nobody but nobody cares about the NBA Warriors, who won 73 games and failed to win the title. And no, it doesn’t make it any better because the Panthers have since turned into a juggernaut.
Edmonton: FAIL in coming up one round short of advancing to the conference finals and now with four series victories in eight years with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, as opposed to Pittsburgh winning the Cup in Year 4 of the Sidney Crosby-Evgeni Malkin partnership.
Tampa Bay: FAIL in becoming the first team to lose a playoff series to the Maple Leafs in 19 years, with Andrei Vasilevskiy appearing uncommonly common after management had gone all-in on Tanner Jeannot.
Toronto: FAIL because it is not generally a success when chaos ensues following a franchise’s most successful season in decades, unless we are referencing the 1994 Rangers.
Minnesota: FAIL because despite regular-season dynamics and creativity in the front office, it became the same-old, same-old letdown in the postseason.
Winnipeg: FAIL because how many times does the core have to show you what they are before you believe them?
In the short-term memory category, better known around these parts as the Have You No Shame? Award, Boston’s Don Sweeney has been named a finalist for NHL GM of the Year, with Florida’s Bill Zito and Dallas’ Jim Nill.
It is not even seven months since Sweeney and Boston signed defenseman Mitchell Miller, the individual who at age 14 pleaded guilty to one count of assault and one count of violating the Ohio Safe Schools Act after having conducted a series of vile acts in a racially motivated campaign against a developmentally challenged classmate named Isaiah Meyer-Crothers.
Soon after that, the franchise renounced the signing, for which no one in the Boston hierarchy accepted responsibility, so I guess the voting panel felt that was good enough.
If the electorate even remembered, that is.
Carolina’s Sebastian Aho is a legit first-line center, no doubt, a player anyone would covet. But no goals on 18 shots against Florida and, according to Natural Stat Trick, with 20 individual scoring chances and nine of the high-danger variety, well, not close to good enough despite his effort and heart.
Is this the part where we mention that Rick Nash scored three goals on 83 shots with 79 individual scoring chances and 29 with high danger?
Yes, Sergei Bobrovsky has the lead for Conn Smythe honors, but it’s not a Belmont Stakes Secretariat thing as much as it is the goaltender cast as Affirmed and Matthew Tkachuk as Alydar at the top of the stretch.
I’m hearing the names of candidates for the job as Maple Leafs GM, folks such as Marc Bergevin, Peter Chiarelli and Brad Treliving, and I’m left scratching my head trying to figure out why Ray Shero wouldn’t be at the top of the list.
By the way, the narrative out of Toronto now seems to be that Kyle Dubas is responsible for all of the Leafs’ success over the last five years, while either Brendan Shanahan or ownership are responsible for the team’s disappointments by getting in Dubas’ way.