With the spookiest day of the year fast approaching, here’s a look at some real-life NHL horror.
First off, there’s the Carolina Hurricanes horrible start, going winless in their first eight games to become the only team without a victory through October. The next chance they get to break that goose egg is November 1 against the Arizona Coyotes.
The Hurricanes weren’t considered a playoff contender this season, but they would’ve have a decent chance of winning at least one game in October if the Staal brothers and Jeff Skinner weren’t sidelined. Jordan Staal is out four-to-six months with a broken leg, while Eric (upper-body injury) and Skinner (concussion) only recently returned to action.
The Boston Bruins haven’t had an October worth remembering, going 5-6-0 through 11 games. If they aspire to a better record in November, they’ll be forced to do it without defensemen Zdeno Chara (knee injury), Torey Krug (broken finger) and Kevan Miller (separated shoulder).
Of these, the biggest loss was Chara, who’s sidelined four-to-six weeks. The biggest Bruin of them all at 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds, Chara’s is not just their captain, he’s also the anchor of their defense corps. They could overcome losing Krug and Miller, but there’s no one who can adequately fill Chara’s skates, and not because of his physical stature.
Speaking of decimated defense corps, the Philadelphia Flyers find themselves lacking three regulars as Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Braydon Coburn and Andrew MacDonald (each with a broken foot) are currently sidelined. Factor in their limited cap space, and the Flyers lack the means to adequately replace these veterans blueliners.
If you’re a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, you’re starting to wonder if you’re cursed this season. Approaching the end of October, the Blues Jackets have nine regulars on the shelf with injuries. Five of them – goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, center Brandon Dubinsky, right wing Nathan Horton and left wingers Boone Jenner and Matt Calvert – are on injured reserve. Defenseman James Wisniewski and forwards Nick Foligno, Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu – are day-to-day with various ailments and injuries.
Of these, the most serious is Horton’s, who’s out indefinitely with a degenerative back injury. His sidelined teammates know they’ll return to action in several days or, at most, a few weeks. Horton is facing the frighteningly real possibility that his playing days could be over.
Other notable players sidelined by injury in October include Detroit Red Wings winger Johan Franzen, Los Angeles Kings forwards Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers center Derek Stepan and blueliner Dan Boyle, St. Louis Blues forwards Paul Stastny and David Backes, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and winger Ryan Callahan and Winnipeg Jets winger Evander Kane.
No one is really surprised by how lousy the Buffalo Sabres are this season, who’ve been compared unkindly to an AHL team, which is probably unfair to most AHL teams. The watch is on to determine just how low they can truly go.
Sabres fans comfort themselves with the knowledge that the worst their team plays, the greater their chance of winning the NHL draft lottery, even with the implementation of the new rules designed to decrease the odds for truly awful teams to win the lottery. That might sound like a great consolation prize, especially with all the draft picks and prospects the Sabres have stockpiled, but it still makes for a painfully long season for their fans.
The Colorado Avalanche’s poor start may be spreading fear among their fan base. While the Avs were only two points under .500 as of this writing (eight points in their first 10 games), they’ve only won two games. That’s a far cry from the 112-point pace they were on last season, when they were the top team in the Central Division and among the best clubs in the league.
A struggling offense is part of the problem, especially with young stars Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon managing only four points over that period. The scary part, however, is their defensive game remains just as bad as it was last season.
Last season, the Avalanche were among the NHL’s worst defensive and puck-possession teams. Approaching Halloween 2014, they’ve given up the third-most shots-against per game (35.8). They’re also 28th in Fenwick-for (42.7) and 29th in Corsi-for percentage (41.4).
During the offseason the Avs brain trust (hello there, Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy) were dismissive of the fancy stats nerds predicting doom for their team because of their poor possession numbers. Sakic and Roy aren’t dining on crow yet, but if these numbers don’t improve and the Avs keep wallowing near the bottom of the standings, they’ll have to get their cutlery ready.