PHT’s Three Duds of the Week: Byfuglien, Vokoun and Anaheim’s Big Three

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

1st Dud (tie): Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks

Key Stats: You’ll see.

The Ducks wrapped up their seven-game road trip with a 5-0 loss to Detroit on Saturday, one coach Randy Carlyle called  their worst game of the year.

“We were just doing nothing,” Carlyle said. “It was like we were standing still and they were skating. They had their skates on and we were in street shoes.”

The loss put Anaheim at 1-3-3 on the trip with just 11 goals scored. Here’s what each of the “Big Three” did during the seven-game stretch.

Perry: 2G-3A-5PTS, minus-5

Getzlaf: 2G-2A-4PTS, minus-6

Ryan: 3G-0A-3PTS, minus-4

As a result, the Ducks are now 5-6-3, dead last in the Pacific Division and tied for 13th in the Western Conference.

2nd Dud: Dustin Byfuglien, D, Winnipeg Jets

Key Stat: 14 games played, one goal.

Consider the following snippet from a piece entitled “Wandering Byfuglien earns fans’ adoration, barbs“.

Jerseys with his name and number on the back litter the crowd when the Winnipeg Jets play at home.

Someone even changed the lyrics of LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem to include the line “Every day I’m Byfuglien”—instead of “Every day I’m shufflin’ “—and put it on a T-shirt.

There is no shortage of opinions when it comes to Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, but his name was being used in vain on Sunday night following Winnipeg’s 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers got the insurance goal in the third period when Byfuglien tried an ill-timed pinch in the Rangers zone. Marian Gaborik easily finished off the resulting 2-on-1.

The Jets are 3-2-1 on the trip, but Byfuglien’s penchant for roaming all over the ice is driving some fans up the wall.

Big Buff’s been a mess this season and easily Winnipeg’s biggest letdown. Even on the rare night when he’s putting up points, he’s still playing poorly.

“Byfuglien had two assists and yet his night was still disappointing,” Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun wrote following Winnipeg’s 3-2 loss to New Jersey. “Hate to pick on one guy, but he has been a disappointment for the most part this season.”

3rd Dud: Tomas Vokoun, G, Washington Capitals

Key Stat: 11 goals allowed over last three starts.

Tomas Vokoun’s numbers on the year — 7-2-0, .915 save percentage, 2.54 GAA — are hardly dud of the week material.

But his numbers over the last three games? Oh yeah, those are dud worthy.

Vokoun is 1-1 with a 4.68 GAA and a .833 save percentage. He was fortunate not to get tagged with a loss in Vancouver — he got pulled after three goals; Michal Neuvirth allowed the eventual game-winner — and flat-out copped to killing his team in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Islanders.

“The first two and the fourth one, you can’t win when your goalie gives up three bad goals,” Vokoun told Capitals Insider. “As much as we play hard, tough on back-to-back nights, I didn’t help the guys much, obviously.”

Vokoun’s poor play has re-opened the door for Neuvirth to get some more starts. He looked great in Friday’s 5-1 win over Carolina, stopping 24 of 25 shots, and should see more action this week as the Caps have another Friday/Saturday back-to-back (a home-and-home against New Jersey.)

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

Tavares says ‘no rush’ to sign extension with Isles

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John Tavares keeps saying all the right things about his future with the New York Islanders.

But that doesn’t change the fact he still doesn’t have a contract extension in place.

Tavares, who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, spoke with Newsday yesterday, telling the newspaper he was in “no rush” to sign and that he’s comfortable to just “let the process run its course, keep the lines of communication open, keep it all internal.”

It’s been reported that the Isles’ uncertain arena situation could be complicating matters. It’s still not clear where the team will call home for the long term.

On that topic, Tavares chose to avoid making any definitive statements.

“The possibility with Belmont and that RFP coming out, there’s great potential there,” the 26-year-old said. “We’ll see where it goes. A lot of those things are out of my hands. Some things I don’t try to worry about them too, too much. I’m just a hockey player. I try to be as best prepared as I can be. It’s a big decision obviously because it’s eight years of my career, really entering into my prime years and a great opportunity for myself to achieve what I set out to achieve when I was a kid, making it to the NHL, wanting to win a Stanley Cup and wanting to do that with the Islanders.”

There’s more in the interview, including his thoughts on the Isles’ offseason moves. Click here to give it a read.

Tavares also spoke with Newday about the thumb surgery he had in April. All’s well on that front, according to the captain.  

“I felt I didn’t want this reoccurring and the recovery time was only six weeks,” he said, “so it was the right thing to do once the season ended.”

Related: Tavares open to signing contract extension this summer

Under Pressure: Derrick Pouliot (again)

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This post is part of Penguins Day on PHT…

For the second straight year, Derrick Pouliot is our pick for the Pittsburgh player under the most pressure heading into the season.

Perhaps we should just focus on someone else, but the Penguins gave the 23-year-old defenseman a one-year contract extension in July. The eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Pouliot knows time is running short to prove Pittsburgh didn’t make a big mistake.

It should be compelling to watch how he fares.

“I’ve got to make an impact right away and show that I belong in the NHL,” he said, per the Post-Gazette. “It’s been three years now. I haven’t fully established myself yet. I want to take it one step at a time and build as the year goes on.”

Pouliot felt he had a strong finish to his AHL season, and perhaps that will help his confidence heading into camp.

But it’s worth noting that he’s no longer exempt from waivers. So unless he earns a spot, that could mean a change of scenery, with the Penguins either losing him for nothing or trading him for pennies on the dollar.

Pouliot could feasibly crack the opening roster as Pittsburgh’s eighth defenseman, behind Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Brian Dumoulin, Olli Maatta, Ian Cole, Chad Ruhwedel and new addition Matt Hunwick.

He could then languish on that roster until an injury gives him a chance to play.

The first step, though, is coming into camp and building off the back half of last season.

“For me to establish myself as an NHL defenseman, a regular guy in the lineup, it’s kind of playing how I ended the season: solid defensively, consistent in that regard,” Pouliot said, per the Tribune-Review. “That’s been one thing that’s always been brought up about me, inconsistency. So I think it’s starting with that and building each game.”

Looking to make the leap: Zach Aston-Reese

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This post is part of Penguins Day on PHT…

With a number of departures from a roster that won back-to-back Stanley Cups, it’s imperative that the Pittsburgh Penguins get a push from some of their prospects in 2017-18.

One of the top candidates to earn a regular spot is forward Zach Aston-Reese, a 23-year-old who just wrapped up an impressive career at Northeastern University.

Aston-Reese signed with the Pens in March, hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow undrafted NCAA products Chris Kunitz and Conor Sheary.

In a twist, Kunitz is one of those departed players that Aston-Reese may help replace.

“He was a college free agent, too, and kind of a goal scorer his last couple years in college,” Aston-Reese said of Kunitz, per NHL.com. “Just made a career for himself playing with good guys and being able to put the puck in the back of the net.”

Aston-Reese scored 31 goals in 38 games for the Huskies last season, making him a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

But despite all the accolades, he knows he’s still just a prospect, with a lot left to learn, and a lot left to prove.

“Whether we start up top or down in Wilkes-Barre, I think it’s important to be in the same mindset that, you’re trying to get better every day you show up to the rink,” he said, per the Post-Gazette. “If we do get that opportunity, we need to have a good mindset, produce and do what they ask of us.”

Poll: Who will the Penguins miss the most?

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This post is part of Penguins Day on PHT…

After winning back-to-back Stanley Cups, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been forced into making some changes to their roster.

It’s only normal that championship teams won’t be able to bring all their players back, especially in a salary cap world.

This offseason, the Penguins lost Marc-Andre Fleury in the expansion draft and Chris Kunitz, Nick Bonino, Trevor Daley, Ron Hainsey, and Matt Cullen in free agency. Each one of those players played an important role in at least one of the two title runs.

Fleury may not have been between the pipes when the Penguins hoisted the Stanley Cup in each of the last two seasons, but he played a crucial part in each victory. On top of playing 38 games during the regular season, he also compiled a 9-6 record with a 2.56 goals-against-average and a .924 save percentage during the 2017 postseason.

Without Fleury on the roster, the pressure will fall squarely on Matt Murray‘s shoulders. Murray may own two rings, but he has yet to go through the challenges of an 82-game season plus playoffs. New backup Antti Niemi probably won’t be capable of filling in as well as Fleury did.

One of the major reasons the Pens were able to go on two championship runs was because of the depth they had accumulated at center. Any team would love to have one of Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, but Pittsburgh is fortunate enough to have both. The Penguins’ depth didn’t stop there. They also had Nick Bonino on their third line and Matt Cullen on their fourth, which is pretty impressive.

Both Bonino and Cullen will play in the Western Conference next year. Finding competent players to play on the third and fourth line isn’t as difficult as getting top line talent, but those two losses will probably hurt them pretty badly.

Bonino had 18 goals and 37 points during the 2016-17 regular season and he added a modest seven points in 21 games during the postseason before being ruled out with a lower-body injury. Last year, he put up less points in the regular season (29), but he had an impressive 18 points in 24 games during the playoffs. He was also capable of playing a solid two-way game.

Cullen, who signed with Minnesota yesterday, also found a way to contribute, despite playing a bottom-six role on such a deep team. The 40-year-old scored 32 and 31 points in his two years with the Penguins and he also added six and nine points during the playoff runs. He also won plenty of key faceoffs and played well without the puck.

Trevor Daley was unable to finish the 2016 playoffs because of an ankle injury, but he also played a vital role during Pittsburgh’s impressive accomplishment. Daley, who is now with the Red Wings, was able to hold down the fort while Kris Letang was out. He averaged over 20 minutes of ice time during the regular season and 19 more in the spring.

Ron Hainsey was a smart, underrated trade deadline acquisition by GM Jim Rutherford. The veteran stepped into the lineup and played 21 minutes per night for his new team. He also chipped in with eight points in 25 games. He got himself a nice contract with the Maple Leafs on July 1st.

Chris Kunitz had been a big contributor for the team, but his production fell off dramatically. After scoring 35 goals during the 2013-14 season, he added 17, 17 and nine during his last three years in Pittsburgh. It became pretty clear that he wasn’t able to play at the same level he had been in previous years, so it wasn’t surprising to see him go elsewhere (Tampa Bay) when free agency opened.

It’s your turn to vote. Make sure you make a selection in the poll below and feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section.