As the first month of the NHL season ends, here’s a look at several notable stars off to horrifying starts.
Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils. Nothing will tarnish Brodeur’s legacy among the all-time great goalies in NHL history, but it’s painfully apparent he’s hung on one season too many. The only reason he’s getting playing time right now is starter Cory Schneider (whom Brodeur acknowledged earlier in October as having taken over the role) is sidelined with a lower-body injury. At 41, the great Brodeur can no longer carry the Devils.
Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers. Lundqvist’s poor performance in October left many observers scrambling for answers. Was he distracted over his contract talks with the Rangers? Was the use of smaller pads adversely affecting his play? Turns out Lundqvist was hampered by a nagging (though undisclosed) injury. The Rangers and their fans hope he regains his form soon. Their season could depend on it.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux is off to a lousy start this season.
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers. The former EA Sports NHL cover boy had only six points (all assists) in his first eleven games. Some believe Giroux’s lousy stats are due to his trying too hard to overcome the shortcomings of his teammates. Some also wonder if the burden of the captaincy is hampering his play. Whatever the reason, Giroux hasn’t looked anything like the superstar he was only a year ago.
Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings. Brown has only five points in 13 games plus he’s not hitting as much as he used to. One reason could be lingering after-effects of last season’s knee injury. Another could be the Kings have changed to a puck-possession style of game. It’s expected Brown should regain his form as the season progresses. If the Kings hope for another lengthy Cup run this season, they’ll need their captain at his peak of his powers.
Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild. Heatley used to be a scoring machine but those days are long gone. Over the past three years his production has been in steady decline, and with only three points in twelve games he’s off to the worst start of his career. At only 32, Heatley could be washed up as a scorer.
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres. Miller hasn’t played badly, but the team in front of him sure has. Eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, it’s widely assumed the Sabres will shop Miller, but it could take until the March 5 trade deadline to find a suitable trade partner. He could be facing the longest season of his NHL career.
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets. The good news is Byfuglien has pretty good offensive numbers (9 points in 14 games) for a defenseman. The bad news is he’s yet to score a goal and made too many costly defensive errors. That won’t silence the trade rumors which have dogged “Big Buf” for the past two years.
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins. The once-energetic pest with the nifty scoring touch has been a shadow of himself so far this season. Indeed, he hasn’t been the same since his best friend Tyler Seguin was traded to Dallas last summer. Marchand has plenty of time to regain his form this season, but until he does, his lack of production will remain an issue for the Bruins.
Mike Green, Washington Capitals. Seven points in 12 games are good numbers for most defensemen, but not for Green, who looks nothing like his once high-flying self this season. His sloppy defensive play remains a concern, and there’s been talk of turning him into a winger. Though only 28, injuries may be taking its toll upon Green’s effectiveness as a puck-moving defenseman.
Stephen Weiss, Detroit Red Wings. Injuries and playing for the Florida Panthers were blamed for Weiss’ poor performance last season. Now healthy and playing for a much better team in Detroit, he’s shown no sign of improvement, managing only two points in 12 games. That’s not what the Wings expected when they inked Weiss to a five-year contract last summer.