It seems odd to write the aforementioned title about any club only a month into a long NHL season, odder still to write that about the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.
Yet a month into this season the Devils and Sabres, who topped their respective divisions and were second and third respectively overall in the Eastern Conference in 2009-10, find themselves with the worst records, not just in the Conference, but in the league.
As of this writing (November 6,2010) the Devils were 14th overall with a 4-10-1 record, the Sabres fifteenth Ė dead last Ė with a 3-9-2 record.
How the hell did these teams get off to such horrible starts?
So what can these respective teams do to get out of their respective holes before they become too deep to climb out of?
Saying ďplay betterĒ is one thing, putting it into practice is another, yet ultimately thatís what itís going to take.
No season-saving trades or free agent signings are going to happen. Firing the coaches might work (John MacLean in New Jersey is more likely to get the ax than Ruff in Buffalo) but even thatís not a guarantee, especially if, as some critics have suggested, this yearís versions of the Devils and Sabres simply arenít that good.
If thatís the case, thereís not a coach in the world who can save them. Well, maybe Scotty Bowman, but heís not coming out of retirement.
Despite their poor starts itís too early to write the Sabres and Devils off, especially the latter. Iíve learned over the years never to count the Devils out. An improved performance in November could get them right back into playoff positioning again.
The certainty however is both clubs cannot survive another month like October. If their November numbers are as bad Ė or worse Ė than Octoberís, then itíll take a miracle for those two teams to save themselves.
A bad month can be overcome. Two in a row, especially in the first two months, usually ends up killing off a teamís playoff hopes.