Every Monday, we’ll highlight (lowlight?) three of the NHL’s biggest duds from the past week.
1st Dud: Pick a Jacket, any Jacket.
Key Stats: Columbus is 0-4-1, 24th in goals for, 25th in goals against, 28th on the power play and 28th on the penalty kill.
It’s hard to pin the Blue Jackets’ woes on a single individual, but not because there’s a lack of candidates.
— Steve Mason has an .889 save percentage and already been hooked once in favor of Curtis Sanford.
— RJ Umberger, Antoine Vermette and Derick Brassard have combined for one point and a minus-6 rating.
— With James Wisniewski suspended, the defensive workload has been forced upon Grant Clitsome (team-high 23:15 a night) and Radek Martinek (22:39). Just to clarify: Columbus GM Scott Howson spent $74 million on his defense this offseason, yet the high-minute blueliner is Grant Clitsome.
— After the Jackets put a season-low 15 shots on goal in a 4-2 loss to Dallas on Saturday, head coach Scott Arniel bag-skated them for an hour, a tactic that, according to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post-Dispatch, “hasn’t been used in Columbus since Gerard Gallant stood behind the bench.” Good times in C-Bus.
NB: Rick Nash (2G-3A-5PTS) and Vinny Prospal (3G-2A-5PTS) could be exempt from being picked, although Nash is the captain of this mess and Prospal has been a real penalty magnet.
2nd Dud: Marco Sturm, LW, Vancouver Canucks
Key Stats: Sturm has zero goals, zero assists and zero points. He is minus-4, however.
Vancouver’s lone notable free agent signing on July 1, Sturm was brought in on a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the hopes of 1) Recapturing the form that made him a seven-time 20-goal scorer, and 2) Being a top-six forward to start the year, given the injuries to Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond.
In retrospect, these expectations might’ve been a tad high given 1) Sturm’s torn his ACL twice since 2008, and 2) The Canucks are his fourth team in 12 months. But neither of those facts prevented the always-compassionate Vancouver media from eviscerating him after just five games!
The Province: “How much time is Marco Sturm going to get to make something happen?”
Vancouver Sun: “Sturm, a free-agent acquisition signed largely because second-liners Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond were injured in the Cup final, may be the most disappointing forward so far.”
The Province (again): “It’s nearing mid-October and we’re still unsure what it takes to get Marco Sturm going.”
The Province (yeah, again): “Marco Sturm, who had two knee surgeries the past three years, has been a bust with no points, two shots and a minus-4 rating after five games.”
On the bright side, Sturm was Vancouver’s best German-born player this past week.
[Update: One of our top-secret inside sources in Vancouver says Sturm is “likely” to be scratched tomorrow night against the Rangers.]
3rd Dud: Bryan Little, C, Winnipeg Jets
Key stats: Little has zero goals, zero assists, zero points and is also minus-4. Sound familiar?
Much like in Columbus, there are numerous people to blame for Winnipeg’s awful start (in no particular order: Ondrej Pavelec, Johnny Oduya, Dustin Byfuglien, anyone wearing a Jets jersey.) But right near the top is Little, the only member of the Jets’ first line without a point. Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd got theirs on Saturday in Phoenix.
Little’s struggles aren’t for a lack of opportunity, as he’s Winnipeg’s No. 1 centre on the power play, most active faceoff man and playing over 17 minutes a night. He just isn’t getting anything done. Case in point: Little’s only registered three shots on goal through three games, with two of ’em coming in the season opener against Montreal.
If you’d like to weigh in with your duds of the week, add ’em in the comments section below.