14 Teams will not make the playoffs this season. Some of their hopes will be dashed on the final days of the regular season. Some have been left for dead since we turned the calendar to 2011. Plenty of people will say it’s important to try to finish strong, and carry some momentum into next season.
Pardon me, but that’s pretty damn stupid. A crappy team, coming together for a brief stretch in March and April cannot possibly pick up where they left off after a summer break. Roster moves, injuries, fitness levels, personal issues (good and bad) will all crop up during that time span. That’s way, way too big of a break to overlook. Sure, a team can prove that they’re not as bad as their record shows, and maybe that they simply underachieved. That’s great, but where was all of this when it mattered during the current year?
Everyone that suits of for and NHL game is there because they’re a good hockey player. Even if they plan one game, and are never heard from again. They still made it up the ranks enough to get a chance. Thus, the difference between a great team and a horrible team is quite small. The great team wins because they execute at a higher level, and whatever advantage they have, they can use it over and over. So for a bad team to make a few changes here and there, and go off on a winning streak shouldn’t be that surprising. Look that the Devils this season. They applied the old method of addition by subtraction. Get rid of a bad coach, bring in their old coach, ship out a disgruntled veteran, and voila, the team is on the verge of a historic playoff push. If they fall short, but do so while still winning, it means nothing for next season.
If they start off next year with a bunch of wins, it’s not because of their momentum this season. Sure, they can look at tape and try to work on the things that went well this season. In general, I don’t believe in momentum too much during a season anyway. How do you explain teams playing stretches of great hockey, followed by a few losses. Shouldn’t they theoretically gain more momentum as the wins pile on? What if two teams with momentum run into each other, and nullify everything that went well. Did they just stop each other in their tracks? Come on, this whole momentum things is severely overblown.
When a team strings together wins, it’s because they’re trying hard, limiting mistakes, and playing their system. If a team wins a few games to end a season, and then picks up their winning ways the next year, it’s because they’re trying hard, limiting mistakes, and playing their system. There’s nothing magical about it. The only time I believe in momentum is during a single period of hockey. One line comes out, creates pressure, gets he guys on the bench excited. Then another lines picks it up, and soon the whole team is dominating the game.
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