Over the last week or two, there have been a handful of teams to go through a bad stretch that has left everyone asking more questions than there are answers. Teams are scrambling to find those answers as coaches are rumored to be on the hot seat, general managers are rumored to be ready to make a move, and players are rumored to be on the verge of being dealt.
Which teams are pushing the panic button at the mid-season checkpoint? More than just a couple… San Jose Sharks
One team not getting a lot of positive recognition lately is San Jose. Here’s a team that, in the last few years, has moved their level of expectation from playoff berth to Stanley Cup. If the postseason were to start today, the Sharks wouldn’t even be a part of the best tournament sports has to offer.
Team Teal has had a lot of disappointing efforts in the last couple weeks, but Tuesday’s loss in Toronto ruffled some feathers in the Bay Area. Their high-octane offense has produced just seven goals in the last six games… Neither Joe Thornton nor Dany Heatley can buy a goal. When was the last time we saw this from San Jose?
GM Doug Wilson has been heavily rumored in recent days to be pursuing a trade. With some cap room to work with, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him shake things up. Would he go after a guy like Tomas Kaberle? What about a more stable goalie? The two-goalie system isn’t exactly working… but then again, it’s not getting much help.
Everyone’s eyes are on the Sharks, who clearly need a spark to get back into the West’s top eight.
This organization as a whole is at a crossroads. Middling in mediocrity for much of this season (the last three years, to be exact), the Senators seem poised to make changes in the near future… one of which is expected to be the firing of Cory Clouston.
As it stands right now, Clouston may be one loss away from getting the axe. Tuesday’s pathetic 6-0 loss in Boston inched him closer to the firing line. But obviously, there are more issues in Canada’s capital than just the coach.
The personnel assembled by GM Bryan Murray have done anything but live up to expectations. Alex Kovalev and Sergei Gonchar are hit-and-miss, the goaltending is abysmal and they have the lowest-scoring offense in the NHL not named New Jersey. Simply put, this is a dysfunctional team.
The Sens have dropped six in a row and will pay a visit to Long Island tonight. Will this be the end of the line for Clouston?
Los Angeles Kings
Another team that is underachieving resides in Los Angeles. In November we were talking about how great the Kings were and how they were legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. Well here we are – L.A. is sitting in ninth and blowing golden opportunities to collect points on their current eight-game home-stand. Overall, they’ve lost six of seven.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the problem for the Kings. To be honest, this whole team is to blame. Other than the power play doing their job, nothing else is going right for Terry Murray’s club. Also, the defense has been wildly inconsistent (30 goals against in last seven games) and desperately needs the services of Willie Mitchell.
The Kings have two games remaining on their long home-stand, and they have to deliver. Anze Kopitar and company looked like world-beaters around the holidays. Now they look like a team that also is in dire need of a spark. Will GM Dean Lombardi provide one?
Columbus Blue Jackets
Joe Yerdon of Pro Hockey Talk had an interesting piece on the Blue Jackets the other day, asking if it was time to blow it up in Columbus – and he’s not the first to suggest this.
Let’s face it… this franchise has had only one good year by NHL standards. The rest of the time they’ve been drafting from the lottery (and pretty high up there for that matter). More times than not, they have failed to draft and develop well, which speaks to their yearly cellar dwelling in the Central Division.
Since Nov. 26 (or since they decided to don those ugly third jerseys), the Jackets are 6-14-3 and have lost five in a row. Steve Mason looks more and more like a one-year wonder, while Captain Rick Nash hasn’t been able to carry the team like many (wrongfully) expect. GM Scott Howson is rumored to be on the hunt for a trade, but nothing has come together just yet.
The Jackets will attempt to snap their losing skid in a home-and-home this weekend with Detroit. Yeah… good luck with that.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.