We’re far enough into the season now that overachievers who aren’t falling back to Earth can be considered for real, while underachievers staying on those paces can be considered in trouble.
Here’s a look at 10 players who have fallen well short of their expectations, to the point where it’s harming their teams. Those who are starting to turn it around (e.g. Claude Giroux) were left off this list.
1. Craig Anderson, Ottawa
At the start of the season, Anderson was considered to be the only goalie who might be able to unseat Jonathan Quick as the starter on the USA’s Olympic entry (since Cory Schneider was still behind Martin Brodeur in New Jersey). But Anderson’s hold on the starting job in Ottawa has been slightly loosened. His GAA is up to 3.42 and his SP down to .897. This poor performance has been part of the reason why Ottawa has taken a rather large step back this season. In the end, a former backup of his, Ben Bishop, may overtake him on the American depth chart.
2. Michael Grabner, New York Islanders
The speedy Islanders forward started the season with seven points in his first four games, which was a huge confidence boost to the Islanders and their fans, since secondary scoring was a major question mark for the team heading into 2013-14. However, since then, Grabner has one (one!) point. He hasn’t scored a goal since the very first game of the season. It’s not solely Grabner’s fault the Islanders are in a tailspin, of course, but he has certainly been part of the problem. In the past three years, Grabner has scored 34, 20 and 16 (in 48 games) goals, but at this year’s pace, he’d be lucky to hit 10. Read more
Back in July, I put together my initial picks for Team Canada. Since then, Steven Stamkos has gone down with a broken leg, Jordan Staal has been underwhelming in Carolina and the goalie situation has become much more clear. So I’m updating my picks. Here is what my Team Canada would look like today:
John Tavares – Sidney Crosby – Martin St-Louis
My thinking: I originally had Stamkos in Tavares’ position here, but with his availability up in the air, I’ll put another sniper in his place for the time being. And I’m keeping St-Louis on the team because he has the experience, skating power and skill set. No Stamkos required. Crosby as the top line centre is obvious. Read more
They’ll be playing outdoor hockey at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Jan. 25, but that’s not the most shocking thing in this story. The jerseys…oh the jerseys.
The Kings and Ducks have both unveiled what their look will be when the Stadium Series swings out to Southern California. The Kings elected to go with the rather drab dark color on dark color on dark color. C’mon, no purple or gold? We’re disappointed Los Angeles.
The Ducks, however, went for the much more eye-catching bright orange, the kind of outside-the-box look teams should strive for at these events.
There’s no denying the St. Louis Blues are a well-built, well-coached juggernaut that could win a playoff series or two. But there’s a little something missing. The Blues are, of course, a dominant 8-2-0 against the East. They’re also a strong 10-4-3 against the more powerful West. But in games against top teams they will need to go through to get to the Stanley Cup – San Jose, Phoenix, Chicago, Los Angeles and, er, Vancouver – the Blues are 2-3-2.
This is why the Blues still need a game-breaking scorer to get over the hump. Read more
Can a player be the most valuable in the league if his team doesn’t make the playoffs?
The answer, at least in my eyes, is a loud “no.” With so little difference between some of the biggest and best contributors in the game, it should be a defining factor if a player can’t lift his team into the post-season. Heck, John Tavares’ case last season had so much to do with the fact he led the Islanders to the post-season.
At this juncture in the season, there is still a lot of hockey to be played, so if your team is in, or close to being in the playoffs, you’re still an MVP candidate in my books. But the Islanders are now 11 points out of a playoff spot (Maple Leafs get the crossover seed at 31 points), which is too far out – it also doesn’t bode well for their future. This is enough to knock Tavares out of the top 10 of this week’s list.
The last time we did a Hart Watch two weeks ago, Alex Steen was the surprise and, somewhat controversial, leader. He falls a little this week, but he’s still very much in contention with some of the best players in the game. Let’s take a look.
1. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim
Time to give credit where credit is due. The big Ducks center is now more than halfway to his career high goal total of 25 and is only two goals away from equaling his total from last season. With 31 points in 26 games, Getzlaf is five behind league-leader Sidney Crosby. But Getzlaf plays an integral role on the Ducks’ PK unit as well. Getzlaf was already a deadly, almost untouchable centre in the NHL – and now he’s added goal scoring to his bag of tricks. Read more
The IIHF and the NHL have announced the officials who will work the 2014 Olympic tournament in Sochi. The group will be represented by seven NHL referees, seven international referees, six NHL linesmen and eight international linesmen.
The following are the NHL officials who will work the event:
Dave Jackson – Referee
Mike Leggo – Referee
Brad Meier – Referee
Tim Peel – Referee
Kevin Pollock – Referee
Kelly Sutherland – Referee
Ian Walsh – Referee
Derek Amel – Lines
Lonnie Cameron – Lines
Greg Devorski – Lines
Brad Kovachik – Lines
Andy Mcelman – Lines
Mark Wheler – Lines Read more
Conventional wisdom in hockey dictates it’s always safer to move a player’s development along slowly, rather than rush him into the NHL spotlight before he’s ready. Yet these mistakes have been made throughout history and likely always will be.
For instance, when the expansion Atlanta Thrashers chose Patrik Stefan with their first-ever draft pick, first overall in 1999, they put him immediately in the NHL and helplessly watched him fail to live up to his potential as a professional. But despite being a first-year franchise, the team was repeating history and making the same mistake a deposed Atlanta franchise had made 27 years prior.
When Jacques Richard was starring alongside Guy Lafleur for the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec League in the early 1970s, NHL teams salivated at his potential. He’d put up 239 points over two years with Lafleur and had set a career high with 71 goals and 160 points in his last junior year after the future Hall of Famer had moved on to the NHL. Richard’s offense and speed were at an elite level and his last name added to the promise and mystique around his future. But that’s about all Richard had in common with The Rocket or ‘The Pocket Rocket.’ Read more
Craig Anderson’s first start of the season was a 35-save shutout over Buffalo and it’s been all downhill since.
The American started 2013-14 with very real aspirations to grab a No. 1 or No. 2 job at the Olympics in February. But two months into the season Anderson is crumbling to the point where he only has a tentative hold on the top job in Ottawa.
Anderson has now allowed four goals in four consecutive starts and he only made it halfway through Thursday’s humiliating 5-2 loss to Vancouver on home ice. Over his past nine starts, Anderson has allowed 37 goals and earned only two wins. His save percentage over that stretch is .859, which is the equivalent of a Jason LaBarbera. Pee-yew. Read more