Last Sunday, we looked at playoff teams from last year which should be playing late April hockey again in 2015. Sixteen teams make it, and though none of us have a crystal ball (and if you do, remember, sharing is caring), based on offseason moves and prospect development, we could all have a good sense of teams that will be good and teams that won’t. Speaking of teams that won’t, we all know that just being in the playoffs one year does not guarantee success in years to come.
Let’s take a look again at the playoff teams of 2014:
It’s a fairly safe bet to say that not each and every team on the above bracket will be there next year. Frankly, let’s hope not; it would make for a pretty boring year. Let’s take a look at some teams which may be facing locker room breakup day when the season ends next spring.
Detroit Red Wings
It actually pains me to write this, since some of the skill level on that team is just so high. But when you mix together spotty brilliant play with aging veterans, the cohesive level of play needed to be successful is just not there. You don’t ever officially write the Red Wings out of the playoffs – they’ve been there practically since I’ve been alive – but after nearly missing out last year and breaking their (now) 24 season streak, it’s a consideration to make. Captain Henrik Zetterberg has the leadership qualities to keep them together, but missing out on free agent defensemen Christian Ehrhoff (landed in Pittsburgh) and Dan Boyle (landed in New York) might be a dagger to them. If their veterans show stamina and their brilliance stays healthy, we’re looking at the 25th season in a row, but for now they’re a wild card.
A lack of consistency is what could be the eventual nail in the coffin of the Avs 2014-15 season. It’s fiery coach Patrick Roy’s second season coaching and, although his passionate (and at times, crazy) coaching got his players excited and moving along last year, it’s very possible that his antics wear thin and he faces the dreaded sophomore slump. The Avs lost Paul Stastny to free agency in July, and losing him to a conference rival certainly won’t help them at all. Colorado’s attempt to replace Stastny comes in the form of Jarome Iginla, a world class player, but he is aging and I can’t quite imagine him playing for Roy. A lot of the Avs being on this list really depends on Roy and how he handles his second season. Picking up Danny Briere for PA Parenteau was a pretty good move, but only if Briere is more helpful in high pressure situations, which wasn’t the case during the playoffs last season. Which brings me to the third team on this list…
The Canadiens did something I thought no team would do last year: beat the Boston Bruins, and in the second round, no less. Confession Sunday: I watched almost none of that series, since the further along in the playoffs the Rangers get, the more superstitious/zoned in/insane I get, but having watched the Rangers make fairly quick work of them, I’m not quite sure to what I should attribute their early playoff success. The offseason was unkind to Montreal, with the aforementioned loss of Briere, along with the losses of offensive spark Thomas Vanek and Captain Brian Gionta. The biggest noise that came from the Habs all offseason is the extension of PK Subban, but if he is named as Gionta’s successor, he may face some growing pains as Montreal’s fearless leader. Let’s not kid ourselves, Carey Price is great in net, and if he plays to his potential, the Canadiens can ride him up to and through the playoffs. But when we look at how hard they will have to rely on offensive lines whose only proven success consists of Max Pacioretty and (kind of) Brendan Gallagher, you’ll need a heck of a lot of leadership and luck to get through.