Tag: slumps


Erik Karlsson: “I had a tough time getting quality chances.”

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The present and future seems awfully bright for Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, but there were definitely some growing pains in a 4-3 series loss to the New York Rangers. After blowing away every other blueliner in scoring with 78 points during the regular season, the gifted offensive catalyst only managed a goal in seven contests against the Rangers.

Karlsson expressed his frustrations to Damien Cox after the 2-1 loss.

“I had a tough time getting quality chances,” Karlsson said.

On many levels, it makes sense that Karlsson struggled so much against the Rangers. The most obvious reason is New York netminder (and fellow Swede) Henrik Lundqvist. It’s also understandable that a brilliant point man like Karlsson would struggle to adjust to clogging passing and shooting lanes that come from the Blueshirts’ noted affinity with shot blocking.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, however, as Karlsson still managed to get 31 shots on goal in the seven games, with one beating Lundqvist. The Senators hope that their star blueliner learns a lot of lessons from this series – and not all of them in his own end (where most of his critiques come).

Florida Panthers win first Southeast Division title

Florida Panthers v Washington Capitals

It took seven coaches, seven general managers and 12 years, but the Florida Panthers are playoff-bound. Making the postseason probably feels like a first, yet the real first came on Saturday as Kevin Dineen and Dale Tallon’s squad won their first ever Southeast Division title after handling the Carolina Hurricanes a 4-1 defeat.

Ever since winning five games in a row from March 11-21, things have been awfully shabby for the Cats. Tonight’s victory marks just their second since that point, as they went 2-3-5 in the final 10 games of the season. If you want an even clearer picture of their punch-less finish, chew on this: today marks their first regulation win since they beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on March 20.

The Panthers lacked much bite lately, so many will probably predict the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils to “upset” them in the first round. Most (if not all) of the numbers seem to speak in the Devils’ favor.

Right now, the Panthers could probably care less. The franchise has taken a huge step in the right direction and you never know how far they can go if things bounce the right way in the playoffs.

Weighing “what’s wrong” with the Sharks

Patrick Marleau Joe Thornton

The San Jose Sharks’ latest letdowns were so troubling that it left local media personalities bickering. With the should-be contender’s outlook dropping seemingly every day, CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz broke down which areas might (and might not) be the problem for the disappointing team.

Here’s one of the more interesting excerpts, at least if you’ve followed leaned-upon media narratives more or less ever since Joe Thornton’s first playoff session in teal:

They aren’t motivated

Why it’s true: This has obviously been the biggest criticism of the Sharks over the years, and the conversation usually begins with Patrick Marleau. The former Sharks captain hasn’t shown the kind of effort you’d expect from the team’s second highest-paid player in the midst of a playoff push, as he has just two goals in his last 18 games. Marleau isn’t the only one, though. Logan Couture has to be held accountable here, too. The second-year All-Star has just three goals in his last 15 games (two in the same game) since the NHL’s trade deadline, which, coincidentally or not, was when he saw his best friend on the team traded to the Avalanche in Jamie McGinn.

Why it isn’t: Statistically speaking, Couture and Marleau are still second and third, respectively, on the Sharks in scoring. Joe Thornton is another player that is often on the receiving end of being too relaxed, but his play on the ice and his numbers on the scoresheet reveal otherwise this season. Thornton has been the Sharks’ most consistent offensive threat for the past two months, and has at least a point in 21 of the last 31 games.

Perhaps Kurz’s “they’re just not good enough” is the tidiest bow you can put on the situation.

From a team stats standpoint, the Sharks seem like a playoff team in most areas. I figured that with their productive power play, they might be weak 5-on-5, but they’re at least above “.500” in that area. They heavily out-shoot opponents, averaging 34.1 per game vs. 28.5 allowed. The one weakness that does jump out at you is the penalty kill, which has a success rate of just 78.2 percent – third worst in the league.

Maybe what makes the question so intriguing for general NHL fans and stomach-churning for Sharks devotees. Then again, you might have the obvious answer waiting to go in the comments, so fire away.

Brent Sutter didn’t take Flames’ latest loss very well

Calgary Flames v New York Islanders

The Calgary Flames received a charity point from their 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild, so that’s something.

Actually, charity points have become a common thing for the Flames, whose four-game losing streak included two shootout losses and an OT defeat. That result halts the Flames in 10th place with 83 points no matter what happens in the West’s other big games tonight, which didn’t leave Brent Sutter very happy.

Michael Russo paints the picture on Twitter: Flames executives looked “fiery mad” after the letdown, particularly Sutter, who was “fuming and screaming” while speaking to GM Jay Feaster. In fact, Sutter was angry enough that Craig Hartsburg conducted the press conference after Sutter was seen “kicking the heck out of a trash can” on his way out of the locker room.

Perhaps highlights of the loss might explain Sutter’s rage and maybe why he made his strange player choices for the shootout?

It’s not just the losses, though – it’s the opponents. After winning five games in a row largely against tough teams, they fell to the Edmonton Oilers in regulation, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Wild in shootouts and the Colorado Avalanche in overtime.

Come to think of it, that’s the kind of run that makes you want to unleash your rage on an innocent trash can, doesn’t it?

Tim Thomas: “We’re stuck. I don’t have answers.”

Tim Thomas, Dennis Seidenberg, Evgeni Malkin

At one point not too long ago, the Boston Bruins seemed like an unstoppable wrecking ball of a team. The defending champions represented the most compelling choice for back-to-back Cup wins in quite some time.

Now the Bruins must worry about losing their division and/or sliding to the third seed – and who knows what once the playoffs begin.

In good times and bad, much of the focus shines upon two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Tim Thomas. (That seems especially fair since he allowed six Florida Panthers goals last night.) CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty caught up with the struggling goalie, who seems downright stumped right now.

“[I] don’t know if I’ve ever been part of a run like this,” Thomas said. “We’re stuck. I don’t have answers.”

Thomas certainly hasn’t provided many answers in March in particular. He’s 3-5-0 in that time, but it’s his individual numbers that are of a bigger concern. Thomas has a hideous .842 save percentage and a ghastly 4.06 GAA in nine unsettling appearances this month.

(Feel free to peruse his split stats and game log if you want to hatch White House slump-related conspiracy theories – start with Jan. 31’s game – but it’s especially clear that times have been rough since March rolled around. Personally, I think it’s a coincidence, but an amusing one in that.)


Thomas isn’t responsible for the slump alone, but his numbers jump out the most. With Tuukka Rask seemingly far from a return from injury and Marty Turco looking rusty – to put it kindly – Thomas and the Bruins must look within for the answers to their plaguing questions.

Then again, maybe they should just look at their Stanley Cup rings – and all the times when their run almost fell short in 2011 – and realize that it was never supposed to be as easy as it looked from November to mid-January.