As the NHL postseason continues to entertain hockey odds fans and experts everywhere, there are many teams sitting at home, wondering what went wrong. Now I can’t answer that loaded and complicated question for these clubs. But what I can do is highlight the ones that really bit the big one. You know, the guys that their teams counted on to lead the way, but they turned up empty.
Here are my 2017 NHL Playoffs three biggest chokers for this postseason. The common thread is that they are all captains, a position that takes a lot of heat, for sure.
2017 NHL Playoffs Three Biggest Chokers
3. Jonathan Toews – I know, it’s sacrilegious to besmirch the name of a guy with three Stanley Cups and multiple national team medals, right? But it’s a fact. Captain Serious is known as a great leader, a Mark Messier-like legendary figure that can will his team over the hump. But the Hawks actually got swept in the first round. Swept! We’re talking about the top seed in the Western Conference during the regular season! How the heck did this happen? Chicago simply couldn’t score goals. Toews had two points in four games, but his team and I expected more out of him.
2. Alexander Ovechkin – Yes, he scored playoff goals and his team was a win away from the Conference Final. But in a year of great expectations for his Washington Capitals, Ovy couldn’t lead his team to a monkey-off-the-back series victory. In fact, once his coach demoted him to the third line, his team started to play better! Ouch. I wonder what is in store for the Caps this offseason. That team has to be tinkered with, right?
1. Max Pacioretty – When you consistently score in the mid-thirties in goals during the regular season you can’t just disappear in the playoffs. Montreal was bounced in the first round despite winning a division and having a 2-1 lead in their series with the Rangers. The Canadiens captain had ZERO goals in six games. In a series that decided by inches that just isn’t getting it done. The pressure in Montreal is great and perhaps Pacioretty buckled under it.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.