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.