Eric Belanger

PHT’s Three Duds of the Week: “Seriously, how have you not scored yet?”

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

1st Dud: Eric Belanger, C, Edmonton Oilers

Key stat: 27GP, zero goals.

Throughout his 12-year career, Eric Belanger has been to the NHL what nachos are to bar patrons. You know how nachos are a safe, solid order? That’s ’cause it’s hard to screw up nachos. You know what you’re getting with nachos. Nachos hold few surprises, mostly because they’re nachos.

Same goes for Belanger — every year, he’ll average 15-17 minutes of ice time, score around 15 goals, notch 35-40 points and win around 55 percent of his draws. Solid every time. He should come with a side of guacamole.

This year, most of that consistency has carried through. Belanger’s played in every game for the Oilers, posted a 55.2 faceoff percentage and is averaging 15:41 a night.

Just one problem: He has no goals. Zero. Nada.

I have no clue why. The opportunities are there — he gets solid minutes and decent PP time. He has good linemates and shoots the puck enough (not a ton, but enough). To keep with the theme, Belanger’s season is like that one place that screws up nachos by putting calamari or something on them. Makes no sense whatsoever.

2nd Dud: Chris Thorburn, RW, Winnipeg Jets

Key stats: 26GP, zero goals.

(Before we start, let me preface: I know Thorburn is not a goalscorer. But he did score nine last year!)

This might surprise some, but through 26 games Jets are the NHL’s 11th-highest scoring team — and Thorburn has been in the lineup for all 26 games, averaging over 10 minutes per night. But for some odd reason, he’s been completely ineffective offensively. (He’s also being soundly outscored by Tanner Glass. If Glasser can score some goals, Thorburn can score some goals.)

Here’s a guy that’s scored 13-19 points in each of his last four seasons, but now stuck on just one measly assist. Maybe part of Thorburn’s problem is his refusal to direct the puck towards the opponent’s net: In October, there was a stretch where he registered one shot on goal over nine games. Yeah, that’s probably it.

3rd Dud: Blake Geoffrion, LW, Nashville Predators

Key stat: 19GP, zero goals

Geoffrion was a talented scorer at the collegiate level (50 points in 40 games as a senior), the AHL level (37 points in 45 games) and, briefly, the NHL level (scored a hat-trick in his 11th game). Yet this year…it’s been bad. Really bad. Prior to going on injured reserve at the end of November with an arm injury, Geoffrion was mired in Barry Trotz’s doghouse. Part of that was due to having more penalty minutes (13) than shots on goal (seven), but we’re guessing the “you have fewer goals than Colton Orr” thing played a role as well.

Former NHLer LaCouture pleads not guilty to assaulting woman

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 19: Dan LaCouture #28 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 19, 2006 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Bruins won 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) A former NHL player has pleaded not guilty to charges he assaulted a woman in Massachusetts over the weekend.

The Cape Cod Times reports Daniel LaCouture appeared Tuesday in Barnstable District Court on charges of assault and battery and vandalizing property.

Police responded just after 6 p.m. Saturday to a house in Centerville, where they say the 39-year-old LaCouture hid underneath a vehicle in the home’s driveway before confronting the victim and striking her in the collarbone.

LaCouture is due back in court July 15.

A phone number listed for LaCouture in online public records was disconnected.

LaCouture made his NHL debut with Edmonton in 1999. The forward had 20 goals and 25 assists in 337 career games with six NHL teams.

He is one of dozens of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the NHL over concussion-related injuries.

A better start is key for Sharks in Game 2

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It’s easy to suggest that perhaps the San Jose Sharks got caught up with some nerves during the first period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After all, this is a franchise that, after well-documented playoff shortfalls, is playing in the championship series for the first time. The Pittsburgh Penguins, on the other hand, well they’ve been here before — seven years ago.

Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns conceded that his team may have been overwhelmed at first, outshot 15-4 in the opening 20 minutes, before eventually getting back on track in the middle of the game.

The result was a two-goal deficit, as the Penguins jumped into the lead. San Jose fought back, but ultimately lost on a late Nick Bonino goal.

The Sharks, of course, have stressed getting out to a better start, and that what happened Monday can be a learning experience, as they look to even the series in Game 2 on Wednesday.

“We were excited to play. We felt we were ready. Then at the start, we didn’t execute the way we needed to. We try to take that lesson and learn from it,” Joe Pavelski told reporters on Tuesday.

“Hopefully we can have a better start. Obviously it’s exciting to be here. I don’t know if it’s your first time or your fifth time, I’m sure it’s exciting every time. So we’ll learn from that game and hopefully have a better start.”

 

Bears face Monsters for the AHL’s Calder Cup

MILWAUKEE - JUNE 15:  Chris Bourque #17 of the Hershey Bears kisses the Calder Cup after the Hershey Bears defeated the Milwaukee Admirals in game six of the AHL Calder Cup Finals on June 15, 2006 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bears defeated the Admirals 5-1 in game six to win the AHL Calder Cup. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Hershey Bears and Lake Erie Monsters will play for the 2016 Calder Cup, as the American Hockey League’s championship series begins Wednesday.

The Bears, who start with home ice advantage, enter the series having won the Calder Cup 11 times — the most of any franchise in the league’s history. They also enter the final having dispatched the Toronto Marlies — Canada’s remaining hope for an AHL championship, right…? — in the third round.

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Meanwhile, the Monsters have been on a torrid run in the playoffs, losing only twice in 13 games so far. They’ve earned the sweep in two of three series, making quick work of the Rockford IceHogs and Ontario Reign.

Bears forward Carter Camper, a journeyman in the minors with three games of NHL experience with Boston in 2011-12, is second in AHL playoff scoring with 15 points in 17 games.

For the Monsters, Blue Jackets prospect Lukas Sedlak has been on a roll, offensively, and now has 13 points in 13 post-season games this year.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Sedlak was regarded as a smart two-way forward, but his offensive production was minimal, almost non-existent. Players like that tend to drift away after a few seasons, pushed aside by the next wave of young talent and high draft picks.

“I’d say right around Christmas I started wondering what was going to happen,” Sedlak said. “I was asking my agent what Columbus thought of me, and I was prepared for everything — maybe even going back to Europe.

“I knew my contract was up after the season. I thought I was playing pretty well … but you just don’t know.”

 

Stars sign Dowling, Ranford to one-year deals

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The Dallas Stars made a pair of depth moves on Tuesday, announcing the signings of forwards Justin Dowling and Brendan Ranford to one-year contracts.

Both players have put up good numbers in the American Hockey League with the Texas Stars.

This past season, the 24-year-old Ranford scored 19 goals and 59 points in 76 games — all career highs for him in the minors. He played once for Dallas last season, but didn’t register a point.

Initially undrafted and a Stars’ free agent signing from two years ago, the 25-year-old Dowling was also productive with 11 goals and 46 points in 52 games.