After looking at the good things that have taken place in the first quarter of the NHL season, today I take a look at some of the bad (or more accurately disappointing) occurrences.
The Columbus Blue Jackets
Like the Florida Panthers (who appeared yesterday in “The Good”), the Blue Jackets spent a lot of money in the offseason (they added $10 M to the payroll) and have not seen results yet. Columbus sits dead last in the NHL and are already 11 points out of a playoff spot and looking toward next year. Attendance woes and (allegedly) unhappy players are already creeping up and the “pink slip” watch for GM Scott Howson and coach Scott Arniel is a constant these days. Jeff Carter, a key acquisition in the off-season, has had injury problems that have delayed his impact on the lineup, and Steve Mason still can’t seem to find the game that made him a Calder Trophy winner what seems like a decade ago, but has only been 3 seasons.
The Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin
For most players, 15 points in 19 games would be a very good level of production. However, when you are a former MVP and scoring leader who is the captain of a team that is “Stanley Cup or bust” this season and should be entering the prime of your career, it is simply not enough. Alex Ovechkin will take the Washington Capitals where they go this season, and right now they are spinning their wheels. Despite the fact that Bruce Boudreau just became one of the fastest coaches to reach 200 wins, there is dissention in the Capitals’ dressing room. Alex Oveckin and Alexander Semin have both spent time on the bench for various lengths of time, and GM George McPhee has had to give a public vote of confidence for Boudreau. Never a good sign. There is plenty of time in the season and talent on the bench to turn it around, but they cannot be happy with their first quarter.
The Vancouver Canucks and Roberto Luongo
Nothing like Stanley Cup hangover when you didn’t win the Cup. That seems to be what is plaguing the Canucks right now as they are muddling through a very disappointing and no doubt frustrating opening to the season. Roberto Luongo has been a key in the disappointment as his GAA hovers around the 3.00 mark and his sub .900 SP has led to frustration among Canucks Nation. It hasn’t just been Luongo though, as aside from the Sedin’s there is a lack of production among all forwards.
Not for the way he has played, but for the fact that he didn’t play in the first quarter. It is a shame that the fans of the greatest game on earth had to be subject to missing the best player in the world for 60 games. Love him or hate him, and there are plenty of fans on both sides of that equation, you must admit the game as a whole is better off when he is on the ice. Hopefully this concussion is a one off and does not affect him going forward, and I have no doubt that if he can stay on the ice for the rest of the season he will be in contention for the scoring lead, if not winning it by the time the season is over, a la Mario Lemieux in 1992-93.
Miller has had a year to forget so far. The undisputed #1 in Buffalo and a perennial Vezina candidate has been usurped for the starting job by Jhonas Enroth, and to add injury to insult, when he finally did get into a game, he was steamrolled by Milan Lucic and is out with a concussion right now. From the outside, it appears that Miller hadn’t taken the situation well and seemed to be sulking on the bench. This doesn’t provide a very steadying influence in the dressing room, and when Miller returns it is something that bears watching.
Anaheim Ducks and Getzlaf-Perry-Ryan
How much longer can Teemu Selanne carry the Ducks? The line that many consider to be the top combination in the NHL has been substandard and as a result the Ducks are on the verge of losing touch with the playoffs. Perry is on pace for about 29 goals and 60 points, a far cry from the 50 and 98 he put up last year. And he has been the most productive of the trio. Ryan is on pace for 20 goals and 36 points, his worst numbers since his 23 game rookie year.
Again, like yesterday this is by no means a comprehensive list of the “bad” or disappointing things or trends that have gone on in the NHL this season, just the ones that have caught my eye thus far. These can be rectified as there is a lot of season left, but if the trends continue these teams might be in trouble.
This is what caught my eye, what about you? Check back tomorrow for “the Ugly”!
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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