The concept the NHL common season is simply an 82-game preseason is possibly the final vestige of a time when 16 of the then 21 groups made the playoffs. As of late, when precisely half the groups are culled, some genuinely respectable groups don’t make it. Groups just like the Knights final yr can rack up over 90 factors and never make it, although we thank them for it as a result of it was utterly hilarious. It might be a pointless and limitless jaunt for groups firmly ensconced within the high of the standings, however for an entire host wherever close to the cutoff line, it’s a crucial train crammed with pleasure and drama. As dramatic as a Thursday night time in Calgary will be, that’s.
However that doesn’t imply that the NHL decides who has 82 video games finish justifiably or in utter dejection isn’t one of many dumber issues stepping into sports activities proper now. One want look no additional than the Pacific Division to see why.
God save the Kings
Allow us to begin with the Los Angeles Kings. The Figueroa Formation (I simply considered that) presently sit third within the Pacific, the final automated playoff spot, with 58 factors. Of us, lemme inform ya, the Kings aren’t good at something. They’re seventeenth in targets per sport. They’re twenty second in goals-against per sport. Their penalty kill makes the infant Jesus weep. Their energy play barely rises to the extent of respectable. Their metrics are simply above middling, thirteenth in Corsi-percentage and tenth in anticipated targets proportion at even-strength. Their goaltending is much less presentable than a puke-puddle in Hollywood, a much more widespread incidence than most individuals notice. They’re not even getting all that fortunate, contemplating their shooting-percentage is twenty fourth within the NHL.
This isn’t even a workforce being carried by some Atlas-like efficiency by anybody. Kevin Fiala is producing at a point-per-game charge, good for thirty second within the league, and their main goal-scorer Adrian Kempe (I all the time have this urge to name him “Mario” as a result of apparently I’ve a fascination with mid-70s Argentine strikers with incredible hair. Unlikely I’m the one one. And sure that was “Kempes” however it’s that type of day) is on tempo for 31 targets. There’s merely nothing exceptional concerning the Kings, who scream that they need to be a workforce that misses out on the playoffs by wherever from 5-10 factors.
And but they haven’t only a spot however an automated spot thanks to 3 wins in time beyond regulation and an extra 4 within the shootout. That’s seven factors they’ve gained within the standings in issues that don’t actually have a lot to do with hockey as we all know it.
Yes, I know, fans love 3-on-3 overtime. Listen to the crowd during it, I’m told. This is the same argument the Cherry-acolytes trot out to keep fighting in the game, and no one who can count to six thinks fighting should be in hockey anymore. 3-on-3 is faux excitement. It’s a farce. It’s fake. I know, lots of things happen. But it’s really no different than the Manfred Man in extra-innings and everyone loathes that too. It’s being simply handed a chance to score without doing anything to earn it, which is the whole point of hockey. I’m sure if we decided baseball games by not allowing pitchers to throw anything other than batting practice fastballs, we’d see some of the game’s biggest sluggers end games with majestic blasts that would get a whole lot of ooze-filled goobers clapping like seals. What makes baseball’s best baseball’s best is they can do that while facing the most difficult challenges on the mound. Ditto hockey. Connor McDavid isn’t Connor McDavid because he can scorch through space that other teams simply can’t cover, it’s because he creates it against five defenders.
Problem rampant elsewhere in NHL, too
The Kings aren’t alone. The division-leading Knights have five overtime wins and an additional three in the shootout. Again, eight points they basically go out of a skee-ball machine. Their 21 regulation wins are good for 11th best in the league. And this is a division leader? Their +17 goal-difference is 12th. Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames, a genuinely well-constructed team, lead the league in losses in overtime with nine. That doesn’t mean they lack something, it just means a whole bunch of coin-flips–basically rebounds that bounced a certain way that led to a 2-on-1 the other way which is all overtime is–haven’t gone their way. And now they’re scrapping for their playoff lives even though they have a goal-difference some 14 goals better than the Kings.
The Oilers have 25 wins in regulation, again the whole point of the exercise, which dwarfs anything anyone else in the division has done. They get a wildcard spot for their troubles.
We know why it works this way. Gary Bettman and his cronies long ago figured out the shootout and the point given for just reaching overtime creates fake parody. Teams always kind of look like they’re in the playoff chase unless they’re truly a disaster (and most of them these days are trying to be a disaster as they “Suck Hard For Bedard”). Only nine of the 32 teams right now would “appear” to be under .500 to the layman, and a three point gap to a playoff spot or division lead sounds small if you don’t know how hard it is to gain any ground in this wasteland of ginned-up equality.
But it is not what it appears to be, and it never has been. And for that, we get whatever it is this Kings thing is presented as a playoff team. Maybe it is all a waste of time.