The Anatomy of a Slump – Little, O’Sullivan, Berglund, and Giroux

Jeff Angus


Bryan Little, etc.

In sports, numbers rarely tell the entire story. In hockey, this is especially true. It is hard to quantify some aspects of such a fast-paced, fluid game. In fantasy sports, numbers ARE the story. Unless a formula to quantify things like heart and determination is developed, don't expect this to change. In fantasy hockey, a 50-point player is superior to a 40-point player by exactly 10 points. In real hockey, the 50-point player may be lazy, overpaid, short, tall, fat, thin, weak, and strong… I think you get the picture.


However, there are often reasons why that player is scoring 50 points as opposed to 40. How much ice time is he getting? Who are his linemates? What kind of role is he playing on his team? These are some of the questions I will hopefully answer with regards to four players performing below expectations (some more than others): Patrick O'Sullivan, Patrik Berglund, Claude Giroux, and Bryan Little.


Webster's dictionary defines "slump" as "to fall or sink suddenly." Many Dobber Hockey readers would define it as "Patrick O'Sullivan."


After scoring 22 goals and recording 52 points in 2007-08 with the Los Angeles Kings, big things were expected from O'Sullivan going forward. He fired 220 shots on goal that season, and had 26 points in 31 games down the stretch, looking like he was well on his way to becoming an offensive star in Los Angeles. He overcame great obstacles throughout his early hockey years, dealing with an abusive father. He showed flashes of elite offensive skills in the OHL, AHL, and was starting to do the same with the Kings. However, his development has been stuck in neutral for the past two and a half seasons. Why? Let's take a look.


Since coming to Edmonton at the trade deadline last season, O'Sullivan has yet to establish himself with regular linemates. The acquisition itself was a bit puzzling – even though Edmonton was able to dump Erik Cole, O'Sullivan was a carbon copy of many players already playing for the Oilers at the time (and currently as well)  – small, skilled, and nonphysical. Using the Frozen Pool line combinations tool (very handy if you haven't already checked it out – click on Fantasy Tools above the banner on the home page), O'Sullivan's most common linemates this season have been the sublimely talented Jean-Francois Jacques and Shawn Horcoff, whom he has skated with 10.5% of the time. Ed