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.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.