Chris Stewart

PHT’s Three Duds of the Week: Stewart, Babchuk and Ballard

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Every Monday, we’ll highlight (lowlight?) three of the NHL’s biggest duds from the past week.

1st Dud: Chris Stewart, St. Louis Blues

Key stat: Zero goals in last eight games played.

To be fair, this could go to any of St. Louis’ top-six forwards. The Post-Dispatch reports that 55 percent of all points scored by Blues forwards have come from the third or fourth lines, so top-end guys like David Backes, TJ Oshie and Patrik Berglund all shoulder some of the blame.

Just not as much as Stewart.

With three points on the year (and just one assist) Stewart’s offense has dried up at a time where the Blues really need him to contribute. St. Louis’ power play ranks dead last in the NHL and that’s tied directly to Stewart, who dined out on the man advantage last year with 12 PP goals, tied for seventh most in the league.

Stewart was pegged by many to be a potential 40-goal scorer this season, but with this slow start and head coach Davis Payne juggling bodies like it’s Cirque du Soleil, it’s looking doubtful he’ll get there. Right now Stewart’s on pace for just 15 goals and a minus-22 rating.

2nd Dud: Anton Babchuk, Calgary Flames

Key stat: Has appeared in four of Calgary’s nine games this season.

The Flames acquired Babchuk last season as part of the Ian White-Brett Sutter trade and he paid immediate dividends, scoring 27 points in 65 games (finishing tied for third on the team in powerplay goals.) As such, the Flames inked him to a $2.5 million deal this offseason, figuring he’d be a key part of their blueline.

So why has Babchuk been a healthy scratch in five of the last seven games?

Good question. There are some vague explanations in this piece from the Calgary Herald — head coach Brent Sutter said he wants to see more of a “structured game” from the 27-year-old rearguard — but nothing definitive. I’d say it has something to do with Babchuk’s lack of production, but he can’t be expected to produce when he hardly plays. Maybe it’s the fact he owns a booming shot but has yet to register a single shot on goal this season. Yeah, that’s probably it.

3rd Dud: Keith Ballard, Vancouver Canucks

Key Stat: Pointless over his last nine games. (Though if you ask certain Canucks fans, it’s “pointless acquisition in the first place.”)

After starting the season so brightly — he scored a beauty goal in the season opener against Pittsburgh — it’s all gone downhill for the maligned Vancouver defenseman. Ballard is minus-10 in his last 10 games, displaying much of the form that made him a regular in the press box (and Alain Vigneault’s doghouse) last year.

If you’d like to weigh in with your duds of the week, add ‘em in the comments section below.

Oilers recall D-man Oesterle from AHL Condors

EDMONTON, AB - FEBRUARY 23:  Jordan Oesterle #82 of the Edmonton Oilers warms up against the Ottawa Senators on February 23, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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The Edmonton Oilers made a move Sunday, recalling defenseman Jordan Oesterle from the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL.

In 18 games with the Condors this season, the 24-year-old Oesterle has three goals and 11 points.

The decision comes one day after Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson missed Saturday’s contest against the rival Calgary Flames because of a lower-body injury.

While he isn’t a flashy player, Larsson seems to have made a positive impression on the Oilers coaching staff during his first season in Edmonton following last summer’s blockbuster trade involving scoring winger Taylor Hall.

No surprise this development is leading to questions about the health of Larsson, with the Oilers set to begin the second half of a six-game home stand and sitting second in the Pacific Division standings.

Video: Reaves and Boll drop the gloves in heavyweight bout

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Heavyweight fighters Jared Boll and Ryan Reaves dropped the gloves during the second period of Sunday’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues.

Those were some thunderous right hands thrown there, both combatants landing their fair share of punches before officials finally intervened.

The Wild sit all alone in top spot of the Central Division

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The Minnesota Wild bested the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, and now sit in sole possession of first place in the Central Division.

Playing the second half of a back-to-back situation that involved travel from Dallas, where Minnesota won Saturday, the Wild fell behind Chicago courtesy two goals from Patrick Kane. Sure, the first goal on Devan Dubnyk was fluttered off the stick of Kane and under the arm of the Minnesota goalie.

But Dubnyk played the remainder of this pivotal game the way Wild fans have become accustomed to since he was acquired. He made 33 saves and was busiest in the second period. Outside of Kane’s second goal, Dubnyk was solid in the middle period and didn’t give up anything the rest of the way. The Wild came back for a 3-2 win. On the road. In hostile territory.

Minnesota, not far removed from a franchise-best 12-game winning streak, now sits at 61 points in 42 games, two points ahead of the Blackhawks and with four fewer games played.

Jason Pominville scored the winner early in the third period.

There are many reasons for the Wild’s success through the first half under coach Bruce Boudreau. Dubnyk’s play has been Vezina caliber. He has a .940 save percentage and a 1.77 goals-against average. Minnesota is second in the league when it comes to the lowest number of goals-against per game and only Washington is better in that category.

The Wild have been scoring plenty, too, fourth in the league with 3.19 goals-for per game, with contributions throughout their lineup.

Free agent signings can always be a risk — an expensive risk — but Eric Staal has rewarded the Wild by producing at just under a point per game rate. He could have his most productive season in several years — at the age of 32 and approaching 1,000 regular season games played.

They won’t have long to enjoy their view from the top.

The Wild host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday to begin a four-game home stand.

More bad news for Bolts: Callahan out four weeks with lower-body injury

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: Ryan Callahan #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning reacts against the Chicago Blackhawks during Game Four of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Four points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and about to begin a six-game road trip, the Tampa Bay Lightning face a tough task trying to climb the Eastern Conference standings.

There was more bad news for the Bolts on Sunday.

Forward Ryan Callahan, who hasn’t played since Jan. 7, will miss approximately four weeks because of a lower-body injury, the club announced.

Callahan made his season debut at the end of October. The start to his season was delayed due to the recovery from hip surgery he underwent to fix an issue from last season. Based on a report from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday, Callahan is once again dealing with a hip injury, although the club didn’t elaborate, announcing it as a lower-body injury.

In 18 games this season, Callahan has two goals and four points.

The Bolts, Stanley Cup contenders that have gone deep into the post-season in each of the last two campaigns, are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Right now, Toronto, Ottawa and Florida all sit ahead of the Lightning in the battle for third in the Atlantic. Now into the second half of the season, they will have to quickly get out of this funk in order to close in the post-season race.

“The results are all that matters,” Brian Boyle told the Tampa Bay Times. “We need to change our attitude a little bit, kind of find our mojo, carry ourselves with a little bit more confidence. We can score quick goals. We can come from behind, jump out to leads and bury teams. We’ve done that in the past with this group.”

The Bolts begin this six-game road trip Monday against the L.A. Kings.