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PHT’s Three Duds of the Week: The No Goals Club

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

1st Dud: Kyle Okposo, RW, New York Islanders

Key stat: 14 GP, zero goals.

“There are guys who need to find their game and show some will,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said following Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Vancouver. “Once again, we had a few guys take a night off. They may talk a good game to the media, but you’ve got to perform. We can’t have guys continue to feel comfortable they’ll be in our lineup every night.”

While we can’t say for certain Capuano was talking about Okposo, it’s fair to speculate he was. The former first-round pick is struggling something awful this season (Newsday said he “looks completely lost”) and is now a team-worst minus-7. His last three games have been absolutely nightmarish with a collective minus-3 rating and just three shots on goal. Speculation is he could be scratched in favor of Nino Niederreiter, who is set to make his season debut this week.

2nd Dud: Blake Wheeler, RW, Winnipeg Jets

Key stat: 17 GP, zero goals.

Say this about Wheeler — his lack of goalscoring isn’t for a lack of trying. Whereas fellow No Goals Club member Okposo has just 25 shots on target, Wheeler is at 42. That’s the fourth most among all Jets players and tied for 78th most in the league… meaning that yes, Wheeler leads all NHL forwards in shots on goal without scoring.

It’s a rather strange development for someone that’s been a solid-to-good goalscorer throughout his career. He had 37 in his first two years with Boston and following last year’s trade to Atlanta, was producing at a pretty healthy rate (17 points in 23 games.) He’s just one of the many reasons why the Jets have been awful to start the season.

3rd Dud: Radek Dvorak, RW, Dallas Stars

Key stat: 16 GP, zero goals.

Technically, Dvorak isn’t a full-fledged dud — Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan praised his work as a checking forward and penalty killer. But as far as goalscoring goes, Dvorak’s been mired in one of the worst slumps of his 16-year career. This is a guy, after all, that has seven seasons of 15 goals or more and 215 goals over his career — that includes his 2000-01 season with the Rangers where he posted 31G-36A-67PTS.

Eventually, the Stars will need him to contribute offensively. He’s currently on a third line with Eric Nystrom and Vernon Fiddler, but injuries to Steve Ott and Alex Goligoski could put Dvorak in a more prominent role, especially on the power play.

Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
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If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

Measuring stick stretch begins

Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning


Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

Update: It wasn’t enough for a win, however, as the Oilers beat the Penguins 3-2 via a shootout.

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.