Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Could Leafs Threaten Capitals' Mark?

If you want to find the hockey equivalent of Redskins panic in the NHL world, look no further than north of the border in Toronto, where some are already comparing this year's winless edition of the Maple Leafs to some of the worst teams of all-time.

There's one record that the Washington Capitals franchise likely will hang onto for a long, long time, and it's one they want no part of. The first edition of the Capitals went just 8-67-5 in 1974-75 to set the distinction of the fewest points in an NHL season with just 21.

That year's Capitals scored 181 goals on the season (2.26 GPG) and allowed 446 (5.57 GAA), and didn't manage a win away from the Capital Centre until beating the Golden Seals late in the campaign for their lone road victory of the season.

In the 35 years since that campaign of bad hockey and white pants in Washington, only two teams have made a serious run at the Capitals' record for futility, with both coming during the 1992-93 season where the expansion Ottawa Senators and second-year San Jose Sharks both finished with 24 points, and the two teams not able to surpass the 21-point mark until Feb. 28th and Mar. 7th, respectively.

Now, having started off the campaign with seven straight losses (0-6-1) and the team on pace for 11 points, some in Toronto wonder if the Leafs are really record-setting bad.

The Leafs have averaged just two goals per game so far, and allowed 4.57 per contest, earning their lone point in their opening game with an overtime loss against Montreal before Toronto dropped six regulation losses in a row, only managing more than two goals with four against the Capitals on Oct. 3rd in those contests.

Of course, people forget how bad that 1974-75 Caps team really was, as a combination of adding 12 NHL expansion teams over a period of seven years and competition from the World Hockey Association for hockey talent produced a bare-bones expansion franchise in Washington that took years to become competitive.

While the Leafs are heading for what appears to be a battle with the New York Islanders for the top pick in the NHL - although in Toronto's case, that likely high pick becomes property of the Boston Bruins thanks to the Phil Kessel deal - they certainly appear capable of notching the equivalent of 10 wins over their remaining 75 contests.

Remember in 1974-75, there was no overtime points or shootout losses, something the Leafs will get a chance to add at least a couple of points from, not to mention the schedule allows them two more games to earn points.

So while the media in Toronto may fret how bad this Leafs team really is, it would be quite a reach for them to take the Capitals' unwanted record off their hands.

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