While there have been many terrific stories in the National Hockey League this year, not everything has been rosy for every team and player through the first half of the 2010-11 season. With that in mind, I would like to share with you my top five disappointments from the first half of the season.
1. New Jersey Devils
This was a no-brainer. After winning the Atlantic Division last season and signing the most prized free agent on the market in Ilya Kovalchuk, many hockey pundits and fans alike figured that the Devils would be one of the top teams in the NHL this season.
As it turns out, the complete opposite has happened; the Devils are the worst team in the NHL and on pace for 44 points. They are struggling to score goals, having trouble keeping pucks out of their net, hampered with injuries, fired their head coach John MacLean, and so on and so forth.
You can name something bad that can happen to a hockey club and chances are that the Devils have experienced it this season.
2. Ilya Kovalchuk, Devils
Obviously, the first two disappointments go hand in hand. The Devils signed Kovalchuk to a 15-year deal worth $100 million. Unfortunately, the team is not seeing a positive return in their long-term investment.
In 39 games this season, Kovalchuk has just 21 points (10 goals and 11 assists). For the first time in his career, Kovalchuk has had trouble putting the puck in the net and it has unfortunately hurt the rest of his hockey club.
3. Ottawa Senators
After making the playoffs last season as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, the Ottawa Senators have been very inconsistent in 2010-11. Through 41 games, the Senators are currently 12th in the Eastern Conference with a 16-20-6 record. The team has struggled with injuries to some of their top players, and also have also been incapable of scoring goals consistently.
This is leading both hockey pundits and Senators fans alike to wonder how much longer head coach Cory Clouston and GM Bryan Murray will last in the organization.
4. Buffalo Sabres
As the Northeast Division winners last season, many expected the Sabres repeat this season, especially with the 2010 Vezina Trophy winner between the pipes. Unfortunately for the Sabres, they have been very inconsistent this season. The team is currently 10th in the Eastern Conference with 39 points, which puts them 10 points out of the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference.
With a long-term injury to their best offensive performer (Derek Roy), things have a chance to go further south in Buffalo.
5. Steve Mason, Blue Jackets
After winning the 2009 Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, much was expected from Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason.
Since winning the trophy, however, Mason has not delivered in the last season and a half. In 25 games, Mason is 12-11-1 with 3.26 goals against average and a .899 save percentage. These numbers certainly will not help the Blue Jackets become a playoff team once again.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.