It's the best time of year!
With the first quarter essentially in the books, here’s a look at 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders that are performing below expectations thus far.
Scott Gomez, MTL
Stats: 12 GP, 0 G, 4 A, 4 Pts, -3
With the money that Gomez makes, he’ll always be viewed as an underachiever. He has not scored a goal since Feb. 5 of last season and is nothing more than a third-liner for the Habs. Gomez missed nine games earlier this year, but has still been a disappointment.
Jarome Iginla, CGY
Stats: 19 GP, 5 G, 4 A, 9 Pts, -12
Last season it took Iginla until December to get going. The same could happen this year, but that doesn’t hide the fact that Iginla is on a 21-goal pace and boasts an uncharacteristic minus-12 rating.
Ville Leino, BUF
Stats: 20 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 Pts, -6
Leino, who is currently on a 20-point pace, signed a lucrative six-year deal with Buffalo over the summer, but thus far that off-season addition has been a disappointment for Lindy Ruff and company.
Manny Malhotra, VAN
Stats: 20 GP, 0 G, 5 A, 5 Pts, -10
Malhotra is widely viewed as one of the best defensive forwards in the league. His early-season slump could be connected to the eye injury; but nonetheless, Malhotra isn’t the same player he was last season.
Kyle Okposo, NYI
Stats: 15 GP, 0 G, 3 A, 3 Pts, -7
The Islanders forward has underachieved all year, scoring zero goals and tallying only three points in 15 games. Okposo was also recently a healthy scratch.
Alex Ovechkin, WSH
Stats: 19 GP, 7 G, 8 A, 15 Pts, -5
Ovechkin struggled at times last year, but not like this. The Capitals have taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks and Ovie is receiving a portion of the blame. Many believe he needs to change his game if he wants to become the player he once was. He is on pace for 30 goals and 64 points, which would be the lowest totals of his career.
Magnus Paajarvi, EDM
Stats: 17 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pt, -2
Paajarvi, a first-rounder in 2009, scored 15 goals a year ago. Through 17 games he only has one assist and has been mired in a drought all year.
Bobby Ryan, ANA
Stats: 20 GP, 5 G, 4 A, 9 Pts, -2
Following last year’s All-Star break, Ryan had 32 points in 30 games. Like many of his teammates, Ryan put together a disappointing first quarter, as he is on pace for just 20 goals. Anaheim needs him to turn it around sooner rather than later.
Alexander Semin, WSH
Stats: 18 GP, 4 G, 5 A, 9 Pts, -3
To say Semin has been an enigma this year would be an understatement. With only nine goals between he and Ovechkin, the Caps offense has had to find other resources offensively. Semin was even a healthy scratch on Monday, the first time since his rookie season.
Eric Staal, CAR
Stats: 22 GP, 4 G, 6 A, 10 Pts, -15
Just a few days ago, Staal had the worst plus/minus in the NHL. It has since improved, but it still tied for the league’s worst. The Hurricanes captain has drastically underperformed this season. He obviously won’t finish with 15 goals and 37 points (his current pace), but the ‘Canes need him to get back on track.
Chris Stewart, STL
Stats: 17 GP, 3 G, 2 A, 5 Pts, -2
This is a player that scored 15 goals in 26 games with the Blues following last season’s mid-season trade. Between Stewart’s suspension and low point total, the first quarter was one to forget.
Henrik Zetterberg, DET
Stats: 19 GP, 4 G, 5 A, 9 Pts, +1
Zetterberg has improved his game here recently, but the talented Swede only had six points through 16 games. ‘Hank’ had 80 points a year ago, which will be difficult to match unless he really kicks his game into high gear.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, CHI
Stats: 21 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 Pts, +5
Hjalmarsson has underachieved ever since his contract extension in 2010. Though his plus/minus numbers have been good, he has zero offensive upside and is falling short of living up to his $3.5 million cap hit.
Tomas Kaberle, CAR
Stats: 22 GP, 0 G, 5 A, 5 Pts, -6
Carolina GM Jim Rutherford rolled the dice on Kaberle in the off-season and thus far it has not worked out. Currently on pace for 18 points, Kaberle simply hasn’t been the same player since leaving Toronto. Also, Kaberle is averaging the seventh-most ice time for ‘Canes defensemen this year.
Tyler Myers, BUF
Stats: 19 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 Pts, -4
Buffalo came into the season with high expectations, and the 6-foot-8 defenseman did as well. But Myers, who recently suffered a broken wrist, has been a disappointment just like he was early on last year.
Luke Schenn, TOR
Stats: 20 GP, 0 G, 4 A, 4 Pts, -3
Schenn was given a five-year extension over the summer, but keeps leaving you wanting/expecting more. Schenn isn’t an offensive guy by any means, but his minutes are down from the last two years as other Leafs defenders have stepped up.
Lubomir Visnovsky, ANA
Stats: 16 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 Pts, -7
Though Visnovsky is currently sidelined with an injury, he wasn’t living up to expectations in prior to going down. Visnovsky led all NHL defensemen in points (68) last season and was considered a Norris Trophy candidate. Considering what he did last year, Visnovsky couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start in 2011-12.
Anton Volchenkov, NJ
Stats: 19 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 Pts, -6
Volchenkov signed the big contract with Devils two summers ago, but it’s safe to say he’s been a disappointment in Newark. He has seen a dip in ice time this season and simply isn’t living up to the $4.25 million/year he signed for in 2010.
Ryan Miller, BUF
Stats: 11 GP, 5-6-0, 2.86 GAA, .909 SV%
Like I mentioned with Myers, a lot of Buffalo’s high expectations hinged with Miller’s play. Miller, who won the Vezina in 2009-10, got progressively worse before sustaining his concussion from Boston’s Milan Lucic. Miller recorded a 4.72 GAA and .854 save percentage in his last five starts. When he returns, the Sabres will need him to kick his game up a few notches.
Semyon Varlamov, COL
Stats: 14 GP, 5-8-1, 3.30 GAA, .890 SV%
After a good start in early October, Varlamov’s game has really fallen apart. The experiment hasn’t worked out too well with Varlamov, as he has boasts an 0-5-1 record in November with a 4.57 GAA and .831 save percentage. Though ‘Varly’ hadn’t ever been a true starter prior to going to Colorado, he was expected to play like one.
Stats through Monday, Nov. 21
Photos credit: Getty Images, Jamie Kellner
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