Bottoms Up is a weekly feature on Backhand Shelf that admits that sometimes the underdog doesn’t win; sometimes they just lose and lose and lose some more. In this edition, we look at the losers who somehow managed to lose to these losers.
Some of you know that I run a Canucks blog with Harrison Mooney (of Puck Daddy fame) called Pass it to Bulis. I bring this up because this past week the Canucks played games against the last place teams in the Western and Eastern Conferences, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Carolina Hurricanes. And lost.
Yes, last season’s Presidents’ Trophy winners and Stanley Cup Finalists lost to two of the worst teams in the league. And I had to write the bloody game recaps. Ugh.
It got me wondering: what other teams have lost to the cellar dwellars of the NHL? The four teams currently cooking with a hot plate and a toaster oven have a total of 37 wins; not all of those wins can be against fellow other teams at the bottom of the league. So which teams have experienced the ignominy of losing to the Hurricanes, Islanders, Ducks, and Blue Jackets?
- Boston Bruins (3-2, 4-1) – 20-9-1
- Buffalo Sabres (4-3) – 16-12-3
- Chicago Blackhawks (3-0) – 20-8-4
- Tampa Bay Lightning (4-2) – 13-16-2
- Pittsburgh Penguins (5-3) – 17-11-4
- Toronto Maple Leafs (3-2) – 16-12-3
- Philadelphia Flyers (4-2) – 20-7-3
- Edmonton Oilers (5-3) – 14-14-3
- Vancouver Canucks (4-3) – 18-11-2
Biggest Win: While the Hurricanes managed to beat the defending Stanley Cup champions not just once, but twice, those two victories came at the beginning of the season when Boston wasn’t beating anybody, getting off to a 3-7-0 start. They shutout the Blackhawks, who have a better record than the Bruins, but the Blackhawks have played two more games. No, the biggest win for the Hurricanes came against the Flyers, who are currently first place in the Eastern Conference. Ponikarovsky said everyone was “back on the same page” and Paul Maurice talked about the win being “huge” and that “this could change things.” Instead they lost the next six straight games.
- Minnesota Wild (2-1) – 20-8-4
- Tampa Bay Lightning (5-1, 5-1) – 13-16-2
- New York Rangers (4-2) – 17-8-4
- Washington Capitals (5-3) – 16-13-1
- Montreal Canadiens (4-3) – 13-12-7
- New Jersey Devils (3-2) – 17-13-1
- Buffalo Sabres (2-1) – 16-12-3
- Dallas Stars (5-4) – 18-12-1
Biggest Win: Just last week I was telling you that the Islanders were 4-0-2 in their last six games and were on the right track. They proceeded to lose 3 straight this week. It’s also a little concerning that the two highest ranked teams that the Islanders have beat are the teams that are performing well beyond their talent level in the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars. With that said, the Wild are currently first place in the NHL and the Islanders managed a hard-fought 2-1 victory over them in their second game of the season. Appropriately, they won the game despite being out-shot 21-to-14.
- New York Rangers (2-1 SO) – 17-8-4
- San Jose Sharks (1-0, 3-2) – 16-10-3
- St. Louis Blues (4-2) – 18-9-3
- Minnesota Wild (3-2) – 20-8-4
- Vancouver Canucks (4-3) – 18-11-2
- Montreal Canadiens (4-1) – 13-12-7
- Los Angeles Kings (3-2) – 14-13-4
- Phoenix Coyotes (4-1) – 16-12-3
Biggest Win: As with the Islanders, the top team to fall to the Ducks is the Minnesota Wild, who the Ducks defeated 3-2 near the end of October. Again, entirely appropriately, they won while being out-shot by the Wild 25-to-16. For those not aware of the irony, the Wild are getting out-shot more than any other team in the league and are inexplicably still winning. And yet, their losses to two of the teams with the worst records came in games where they badly out-shot them. Small sample sizes are fun!
- Detroit Red Wings (4-1) – 19-10-1
- Anaheim Ducks (3-1) – 9-17-5
- Winnipeg Jets (2-1) – 14-13-4
- Nashville Predators (4-3 OT) – 16-11-4
- Calgary Flames (4-1, 4-3 SO) – 14-14-4
- Buffalo Sabres (5-1) – 16-12-3
- Montreal Canadiens (3-2 SO) – 16-13-1
- Vancouver Canucks (2-1 SO) – 18-11-2
Biggest Win: The Blue Jackets’ biggest win was also their first. After an 0-7-1 start, the Blue Jackets faced the Red Wings at home and won handily. It also happened to be James Wisniewski’s first game of the season after serving his 8-game suspension, playing over 27 minutes. The Red Wings have the highest goal-differential in the Western Conference; the Blue Jackets have the worst. And yet, the Blue Jackets got their first win of the season against Detroit. Also of note, the Blue Jackets are the only basement team with a victory over a fellow cellar dweller.
So what’s the takeaway from all of this? Even the worst teams in the NHL are still NHL teams with NHL talent. The Edmonton Oilers finished last place in the NHL last season, but still won 25 games. By definition, each of those victories was an upset, but two of those victories came against the first place Vancouver Canucks. The second worst team was the Colorado Avalanche, and they had victories over the Canucks, Capitals, Red Wings, and Sharks.
Sure, a loss to one of the worst teams in the league is concerning and should probably act as a wake-up call and reminder that you can’t take any teams lightly, but it’s also not the end of the world.