Ups and downs of an expansion teamby Phil Lesage | March 9, 2019, 8:24 AM ET
The Seattle Grunge started the season on fire and surprising all the experts. They jumped out of the blocks with 4 straight victories, including victories over Havana and Boston. After the 10 games mark the team was still going strong, posting an 8-2 record and contending for top spot in the World Conference. After the 20 game mark the Grunge were still rolling along posting a .700 winning percentage (14-5-1 record) and sticking around with the top teams. During the next 10 games the Grunge heated up again posting a 7-2-1 record, maintaining their .700 winning percentage and bringing the record to 21-7-2. Now skip ahead to the last 22 games the team has a winning record of .454; luckily 4 of the losses have come in overtime giving the team 4 loser points. The club has dropped in the standings and is now sits in 5th place.
Why the sudden struggles? GM Lesage has made some trades to improve the teams overall depth and offense and defense. Additions from the opening night roster include forwards; Tyler Johnson, Troy Brouwer, Matthieu Perreault and Chris Kunitz; Defensemen; TJ Brodie, Jake Gardiner and Kevin Bieksa; Goalies: Alex Stalock.
Theories why the Grunge are struggling:
1) Injuries/lack of depth - while all teams have had injuries woes this season, being an expansion team the Grunge just don't have the depth of the other teams making it difficult to backfil.
2) Ability to trade/lack of depth - while GM Lesage has been able to make some good deals this season, he doesn't have the minor league depth and can't risk the future by dealing away top prospects or 1st round picks in the push to make the post season.
3) Player burn out - players are giving a 110% effort every game, this can lead to fatigue especially when your oponent has 2-3 top lines.
4) Coaching - there are very good coaches out there and they may have figured Seattle's game plan. HC Peters has done a great job getting the most from his players. Can the team regroup and perform better down stretch drive?
5) Star power - the Grunge have some good players, but they just don't have the star power to out perform many of their oponents for 60 minutes each night.
With 30 games remaining, and 8pts up from the 9th place team, they will need to play close to .500 hockey to make the post season. Based on their early season success this is can be achieved.