Keeping with the theme, this weekend being Halloween, I thought I should take a look at the NHL in a spooky kind of way. What frightens teams? What are their struggles and what makes them scream? It’s Halloween, but not everyone is living the dream, it’s NHL nightmare time.
Anaheim Ducks- Nightmare: Clayton Stoner
This offseason the Ducks signed Clayton Stoner to a 4 year, 13 million dollar contract. Although, Anaheim is off to a great start, Stoner hasn’t had any real impact in it. In 9 games this year Stoner has 0 points and a -1 rating. Doesn’t sound like 13 million dollar production to me.
Arizona Coyotes- Nightmare: Mike Smith’s Goaltending
The Coyotes expected Mike Smith to return back to all-star form this year but that has not happened. Smith is slumping, 6 starts this year and he has a poor 4.29 goals against average and an awful .858 save percentage. The last thing the Coyotes need is a bad Mike Smith. Seeing him let in 6 goals against Tampa on Tuesday, makes this nightmare seem like a reality. It is going to make a bad Arizona team worse.
Boston Bruins- Nightmare: Zdeno Chara’s Injury
The captain for the Boston Bruins is down and out. Zdeno Chara suffered a knee injury last week that will make him miss up to 6 weeks. Losing their top defensemen for 6 weeks could be scary for the Bruins. Chara took up a lot of ice time for Boston’s blueline and passing his minutes onto younger defensemen could cause Boston to struggle. Boston really seemed to miss Chara in the third period of their game against the Minnesota Wild, where they blew a 3-1 lead.
Buffalo Sabres- Nightmare: Not Getting Eichel Or McDavid In The Draft
Buffalo is rebuilding and they know that. They aren’t going to have a good team this year and they can accept that. They are already looking forward to the draft next year. They are looking at the two young superstars that are draft eligible next year, Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid. These two players are someone who could jump-start the Sabres rebuilding process. If they don’t score one of these highly talented players, 2015 could be another rough year for Buffalo.
Calgary Flames- Nightmare: Gruesome At Home
Many say that the Flames have been the surprise of the NHL season so far. They have a 5-4-2 record but only one of those wins is at home. Calgary only has one win at home in five tries. This is the NHL, where you need to have a .500+ record at home in order to have a solid season. If the Flames want to get to the playoffs this year, they are going to need to be better on their home ice.
Carolina Hurricanes- Nightmare: Playing On The Road
They’re many things the Canes have nightmares about but 0-5-1 record on the road this season really doesn’t make Canes’ fans sleep good at night. It might just be a lost cause for Hurricane fans this year. Sorry guys, just pray you get McDavid or Eichel in draft so you have something exciting to watch next season.
Chicago Blackhawks- Nightmare: Big Nasty Is Nice
Remember when Bryan Bickell was like the Grim Reaper in front of the net? Mean, tough, and nasty (hence the nickname Big Nasty), no one wanted to mess with him then. I haven’t seen that out of him this year. He has been pretty quiet for the Blackhawks this season. He is now on the first line with Toews and Hossa so you’d think his production would increase but through 9 games this season he has 3 points and only 2 penalty minutes. Halloween needs to bring back the bogeyman in Bickell.
Colorado Avalanche- Nightmare: Mystery Of MacKinnon
Colorado was the talk of the NHL last year, winning the Central Division and with Nathan MacKinnon having a huge rookie season. This year, it is a different story; McKinnon looks to be in a sophomore slump. He is a first line player with forth line stats. MacKinnon has 0 goals, 4 assists, and -6 rating through 10 games. Colorado needs last years’ MacKinnon if they want to be a playoff team again this year.
Columbus Bluejackets- Nightmare: Beast Bobrovsky’s Finger
Sergei Bobrovsky has been the backbone to the Columbus Bluejackets. He has started all but one game for the Jackets this season. He makes a young talented Columbus team become a strong playoff team with his stellar play. Recently Bobrovsky suffered a fractured in his finger during practice and is expected to miss two weeks. The Bluejackets could struggle while he is out. When he returns, if he is not the same goalie he was before the injury the Bluejackets could have a depressing season. The fear of the finger is real.
Dallas Stars- Nightmare: Nichushkin Rusty In Return
Nichushkin has missed most of the season so far for the Dallas Stars and they have felt his loss. The Stars have had great production from their top line but they need their scoring to spread out a bit. Nichushkin will do just that adding a real scoring threat to the second or third line for Dallas. So what happens if he comes back rusty? Opponents will react by pressuring the first line heavily and force the lower lines to beat them. Nichushkin’s return could affect a lot for Stars. Hopefully he comes back better than ever, making Dallas an even heavier contender in the Central Division.
Detroit Redwings- Nightmare: Old Guys Can’t Hang
It is always hard to find something wrong with the Detroit Redwings, but I always think to myself, “ man these guys have to be getting old.” Well they are!! Datsyuk 36, Franzen 35, Zetterburg 34, Krowwall 33, how long can these guys keep kicking! The injury bug has already been hitting Datsyuk lately, how long is it going to be until the other old guys start getting hurt too. I’m nervous for Detroit, and their nightmare could be coming faster than they think.
Edmonton Oilers- Nightmare: Disappearing Defense
Everyone scores on Edmonton. Their defense seems nonexistent. The Oilers are allowing 3.44 goals per game, which among the worst in the NHL. They have allowed 32 goals on the year but things could be changing, Monday night, the Oilers shutout Montreal. The first time they have allowed less than two goals this season.
Florida Panthers- Nightmare: Scoring Goals Spell
If the Florida Panthers could score some goals they would be a damn good hockey team. The Panthers only have 10 goals in 7 games this season. How can you win hockey games when you average less than a goal and a half per game? I know they improved their goaltending by getting Luongo but c’mon Panthers give the poor man some help! The spell has been casted on Florida’s offense. They need to come alive in Florida or their chances of making the playoff can RIP.
Los Angeles Kings- Nightmare: Foggy First Line Production
The story of the LA Kings has been the play of “That’s 70’s Line.” They have totaled 34 points for the Kings, which is great, but the rest of the team hasn’t had the same production. The first line for the Kings has been a bit foggy to start the season. Anze Kopitar only 3 points, Jeff King only 2 points, and captain Dustin Brown only 1 point. If the Kings except to be Stanley Cup Champs again, they need production from all of their lines, not just one.
Minnesota Wild- Nightmare: A Pumpkin On The Powerplay
The Wild are a miserable, 0 for 26 this year on the powerplay. I know its early but when you have a unit consisting of Parise, Vanek, Koivu, Pominville, and Suter, you’d think they could burry some goals. Mike Yeo’s nightmare of the powerplay keeps getting worse as the Wild had 14 powerplay minutes against the Rangers on Tuesday and they came away with nothing, as the Rangers came back to win 5-4, with 5 third period goals.
Montreal Canadiens- Nightmare: Powerplays On The Road
The Canadiens are cruising but there is one bump in the road. Montreal is 7-2-0 and those two loses have came on the road. The problem with Canadiens on the road is their powerplay. They are 0 for 21, its stats like that make a jack-o-lantern frown.
Nashville Predators- Nightmare: Western Road Trip Gets Whacky
The Predators are off to a fast start. On Wednesday though, they start a 12-day road trip consisting of 6 games against Western Conference opponents. The Preds look to continue their hot start but if the road trip gets whacky their great start will just be a thing in the past.
New Jersey Devils- Nightmare: Demons On The Penalty Kill
The Devils are being haunted by demons on the penalty kill. The Devils are 66.7% on the penalty kill, good for last in the NHL. The have allowed 14 powerplay goals. The season started out rough for the Devils, facing the Penguins, who went 3-3 on their powerplay opportunities. If the Devils cut down on their mistakes during the PK, a few of their losses this year could have turned into wins.
New York Rangers- Nightmare: Lacking Lundqvist
What made the Rangers so good last year was Henrik Lundqvist standing on his head and playing unreal. This year it hasn’t been the same. His stats are a unnerving, 3.25 goals against average with a .891 save percentage. Lundqvist is the man that wears the hard hat when it comes to the Rangers. When they win he is the superhero and when they lose he takes all the blame.
New York Islanders- Nightmare: Grim Goalie Production
The New York Islanders’ goalies have been zombies in net. They are practically dead back there, averaging over 3 goals against per game. Halak in 6 starts has a save percentage of .889 and Johnson with 3 starts has a save percentage of .891. The Islanders are off to a great start but when a team scores at least 3 goals they expect to win. Luckily the Islanders have been averaging close to 4 goals a game so it hasn’t been too much of a problem yet. But this nightmare could get scary quick if the Islanders stop scoring at will.
Ottawa Senators- Nightmare: Offence Is Trolling
Erik Karlsson is a great player but he is a defensemen and should not be leading the Senators in points. If you take out last night’s offense explosion, the Senators had just 15 goals in 7 games. Most of their offense is coming from their defensemen. Wake up Bobby Ryan the Sens didn’t give you all that money to only have 2 goals this season.
Philadelphia Flyers- Nightmare: Penalty Kill On The Road
The penalty kill on the road needs to be better for the Flyers. They have allowed 5 powerplay goals on the road compared to 0 at home. Their PK on the road is the worst in the NHL at 55%. Everyone loves the Flyers around Halloween because of their bright Orange colors but their play on the PK has been sour not sweet.
Pittsburgh Penguins- Nightmare: Maatta’s Bump
Although it is not serious yet, Olli Maatta is going to miss some time to get the bump removed from his neck. Maatta has been the Penguins top defensemen with 6 points (1 G 5 A) for Pittsburgh. Maatta is in his second year with the Penguins and has been receiving a lot of ice time. Maatta has a bright future and the Penguins need him to be healthy to make a deep run in the playoffs this year. We wish him the best of luck and for a safe recovery.
San Jose Sharks- Nightmare: Haunted Hertl
Has Hertl been haunted this Halloween? After his great rookie season last year, Hertl has been pretty quiet this season. 11 games for Hertl and only 3 points (2 G 1A). The second liner for San Jose needs to get back to the Hertl that Shark fans fell in love with last season. He’s a young kid with extraordinary talent and now he needs to find his grove again for the Sharks.
St. Louis Blues- Nightmare: Oshie’s October
Did T.J. Oshie use up all his magic in Sochi? It seems as if witchcraft has hit Oshie this year. Oshie has tallied 0 goals and only 1 assist in 9 games for the St. Louis Blues. Get back on the broomstick, the Blues need T.J. Sochi back! With Paul Stastny hurting the Blues are struggling but are still keeping afloat. T.J. has been a nightmare but just get him in a shootout because that seems to be the magic potion to get the best out of him.
Tampa Bay Lightning- Nightmare: Hedman’s Hair-raising Injury
Tampa Bay rookie defensemen, Victor Hedman, was on fire before he went out with an injury. In just games 5 this year Hedman had a remarkable 7 points (3 G 4 A). Hedman is expected to miss for 4-6 weeks with a finger injury. The blueline of the Bolts will greatly miss the young Swed but Anton Stralman has been picking up the slack. Tearing it up too, 8 points for the vet, who is off to the best start in his career. Fans were nervous when Hedman went down but I think this nightmare won’t last long for the Lightning.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Frightening Fans In Toronto
Toronto is arguably the hardest place to play because of how dedicated and demanding the fans are. Toronto is 2-4 at home and their fans are letting them know it. When they get down the fans boo. When they lose the fan throw their jersey on the ice. The fans are crazy in Toronto. They expect so much from their team and to start the season off, the Leafs haven’t been producing. Toronto doesn’t even want to play at home because it is even more of a hostile environment than on the road. The players are tiptoeing in Toronto because they don’t want to have unhappy fans. So much for home ice advantage?
Vancouver Canucks- Nightmare: Fear Of The Faceoff Circle
When Buffalo is the only team you are ahead of in a statistical category, you aren’t doing it very well. Vancouver is second to last in the NHL in faceoff winning percentage. A weak 45.7% in the faceoff circle, Sedin, Bonino, and Richardson, this one is on you. Winning more faceoffs will create more scoring opportunities in the offensive zone and will help breakout the puck in the defensive zone.
Washington Capitals- Nightmare: Quiet Ovechkin
The Washington Capitals are a better team when Ovechkin scores a goal. Ovechkin inconstancy has caused him to turn into a very streaky player, which could cause trouble for the Caps. Ovi had a great stretch of 3 games putting up 6 points but has been silence since. Ovechkin needs to be a more consistent player for Washington if they want to be a playoff team. Streaks of hot and cold aren’t going to get it done in the NHL. The NHL season is all about consistency.
Winnipeg Jets- Nightmare: Eerie Evander
The Jets are 4-5-0 this year but they are missing one of their best players. Evander Kane went down with an injury the first game of the season but has recently been practicing with the team and could be coming back soon. Kane will add some offensive firepower to the second line. Blake Wheeler will be one happy man with his left-winger Kane back. Evander is eerie to get back with the team but don’t rush him Winnipeg because he is going to be a huge part of your team late in the season if you expect to make a push for the playoffs.
30 teams wishing for a Happy Halloween and sweet dreams!
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