October 17, 2011

Will the real NHL superstars please stand up?!?! (Part 1)

The NHL season has been underway for almost 2 weeks now, but it seems like many of the league’s biggest superstars decided to take a few weeks more of vacation. Some of the elite players in the NHL have not only played below their potential but they are being outplayed by both fellow teammates and opposition. Pre-season favorites for every single trophy have struggled out of the gate thus far. So which forwards have had the most disappointing starts to 2011?

Potential Art Ross Candidates off to slow starts!

1) Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf & Bobby Ryan (ANA) – 9 GP (total) 0 points!!! 
This line was called the best line in hockey ever since the torrid pace they were on to close out last season. Perry had 50 goals/98 points, Getzlaf 76 points in only 67 games, and Ryan added in 71 points of his own. This year in 3 games, not a single member of this line managed to score or even assist on a goal yet. That is just unacceptable coming from these guys, who all have the potential to challenge for the Art Ross/Hart trophies. Having said that, last night the trio put up a combined 6 points vs the Blues. So they are getting back on track. However, from these guys, going scoreless for 3 straight games is simply unheard of and the Ducks are going to need a lot more from the trio if they want to have any success this year

2) Alexander Ovechkin (WAS) – 4 GP, 1 G, 1 A, -2
You might be surprised to see Ovechkin’s name on this list considering he has 2 points, but I felt he needed to be included simply because he is playing nowhere near his potential as of yet. 2 points in 4 games wouldn’t be that bad if the Capitals were playing bad hockey, or nobody was producing. But that isn’t the case at all, here are 4 stats that show why the Great 8 has had a HORRIBLE start to the season. 1 - Ovechkin is currently 10th on the Capitals in scoring, yes you read right, 9 teammates have more points than him! 2- Jason Chimera has more goals (3) than Ovechkin has points. 3- His linemate Backstrom leads the team in points (5) so it’s not like his line is playing poorly. 4- Perhaps worst of all, is the fact that Ovechkin is tied for a team worst plus/minus (-2). Those 4 stats show essentially that most of the Capitals have played great, however, Ovechkin just hasn’t seemed to get it going as of yet. Having said all of that Washington is currently 4-0, so his production has not cost them anything, and in the end winning is all that matters.

3) Joe Thornton (SJ) – 3 GP, 0 points, -1
Thornton had an off year last season, and hasn’t seemed to have shaken the rust off yet. He will soon be getting a new linemate in Havlat, so I will withhold judgment until I see how they gel together. But to be held off the scoresheet in 3 consecutive games on a high-powered offensive team like the Sharks is not a good sign. Thornton will need to pick his game up if he wants to continue to be considered one of the game’s elite playmakers.

4) Jarome Iginla (CGY) – 4 GP, 1 goal, -3
Out of all the players on this list, I will give the benefit of the doubt to Iginla the most. Iginla is simply not surrounded by talent that will allow him to succeed. Calgary is by far the worst team out of the 4 mentioned in this article, so it’s not all on Iginla’s shoulders, however, a player of his caliber should find ways to produce no matter what. His start to the season has been especially disappointing when you consider how well him, Tanguay and Jokinen seemed to be playing to close out last season. His lack of production isn’t due to a lack of effort, so I think eventually he will get it going, but as of now -3 just isn’t good enough for the all-star!

The good news for these 4 players is the fact that the regular season has 82 games in it, not a handful. They have more than enough time to get going, and 2 weeks from now we could be talking about these guys as the leading scorers in the NHL. They definitely have the talent to turn it around, and I could guarantee each of these guys will. However, for the talent they have the start to this season has been very disappointing.

I will soon be posting an article on disappointing Norris and Vezina candidates so far this year! Stay tuned.

Grant Robinson (@thesportsgrind)

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