If you have more than a passing interest in the Fail For Nail Sweepstakes™ like I do, it’s likely because your team stinks. My Leafs can’t do anything right, and with so many injuries in goal it’s only a matter of time before they beg Johnny Bower and/or the ghost of Turk Broda to come out of retirement one last time. Or they lob a phone call to Vesa Toskala’s agent and ask if he’s better at stopping 197-foot shots from the other team’s red line. Ugh!
The only reason I’m optimistic better times are ahead for the Leafs is there’s a chance Nail Yakupov might wear the blue and white. To get there, I have to root for my team to lose so it can be one of five NHL teams in the Fail For Nail Sweepstakes™.
With only three (or four) games left in the regular season it’s time to handicap the remaining teams in the Fail For Nail Sweepstakes™.
ALREADY FAILED FOR NAIL
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (3-2-0 last week, 61 points overall): Under normal circumstances Jackets fans would scream bloody murder over the team’s current three-game winning streak but there’s no way they can be bumped from the NHL basement. No harm, no foul with a season ending winning streak, right?
CURRENTLY FAILING FOR NAIL
EDMONTON OILERS (1-2-0, 71 points): Not only are the Oilers muddling along but now they’ve got injury problems to deal with. Upcoming games against Anaheim, Los Angeles, Anaheim again and Vancouver should result in the Oilers punching their lottery ticket.
MONTREAL CANADIENS (0-1-2, 73 points): This is one team that can’t get it right. If you’re going to Fail For Nail™, you have to lose in regulation. Pity points for losing in overtime not only hurt your chances, but they’re pitiful to accumulate. Games against Tampa Bay, Carolina and Toronto may hurt their chances to stay in the bottom five.
MINNESOTA WILD (2-2-0, 76 points): I really don’t know what to say about the Wild’s chances of remaining in the Fail For Nail Sweepstakes™. They lose to Washington and the Rangers and then beat division leading Florida and Los Angeles in consecutive games. They have four remaining games against Chicago, Nashville, Chicago again and Phoenix. How many will they win?
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (1-2-0, 77 points): The Leafs looked awful in back to back games against Carolina and Philadelphia, but then looked like a playoff team versus Buffalo. Unlike most teams, they only have three remaining contests against Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Montreal. Hopefully Boyd Devereaux (or anyone else) doesn’t score a hat trick in the final game of the season to knock them out of the Fail For Nail Sweepstakes™ just like they did when they screwed up the Tank For Tavares campaign three years ago.
FAILING TO FAIL FOR NAIL
ANAHEIM DUCKS (1-2-0, 77 points): They’re tied with the Leafs and Islanders for the fifth-worst point total but they have four games left on their schedule. Contests against Edmonton (twice), Vancouver and Calgary should take them out of the sweepstakes.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS (3-1-0, 77 points): They have all but removed themselves from this competition thanks to big victories against Florida and Pittsburgh (twice), and they have four contests against Ottawa, New Jersey, Winnipeg and Columbus remaining.
CAROLINA HURRICANES (1-1-1, 78 points): They looked great against the Leafs but not so good against New Jersey last night. With games against Ottawa, Montreal and Florida remaining I don’t see this team losing all three to keep pace with the Leafs.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (2-2-0, 79 points): They looked awful against Boston yet beat Philadelphia and Winnipeg. Playing .500 hockey week in and week out will not help this team get a decent draft position, and games against Washington, Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg will ensure they do more of the same.
WINNIPEG JETS (1-2-1, 81 points): It’s going to take a miracle for the Jets to get back in the Fail For Nail Sweepstakes™, let alone the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With upcoming games against Florida, the Islanders and Tampa Bay I don’t see this team going 0-3-0 next week.