My look at five NHL clubs underperforming in 2013.
St. Louis Blues (6-5-1, 18th overall in the NHL)
The Blues were tabbed by many as the best team in the Western Conference, but they haven't played like it through the first quarter of the season. Brian Elliott has struggled mightily as the starting goaltender (Jaroslav Halak remains out with a groin injury), and the normally stingy Hitchcock-led defense has allowed 40 goals in only 12 games.
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Kari Lehtonen stole another two points for the Stars last night – he stopped 35 of 36 shots, and gave Edmonton shooters fits all game long.
Ryan Smyth and Ryan Whitney were both healthy scratches. Whitney is simply not an NHL defenseman right now, while Smyth has taken bad penalties in recent games.
Hall scored the only Oilers goal and also had an impressive nine shots on net.
Brandon Saad scored his second career NHL goal and led Chicago in SOG with six. He continues to play really well in Chicago’s top six.
Darcy Kuemper was very solid in his NHL debut against the Canucks, but his team only gave him one goal of support.
Jonas Brodin was rock solid on the top pairing along with Ryan Suter – his transition to the NHL has been seamless.
Mason Raymond’s bounceback season continues – he was creating chances with his speed and hands all game long, and he made a terrific toe-drag move on the Jannik Hansen game winner.
Both Ryan Ma and I are struggling in the Dobber Experts League – we pulled off a trade this morning. I sent Ma Parise and Grabner, and in return I received Derek Roy and Martin St. Louis. Fills needs for both teams.
The BJ’s have made it official – Jarmo Kelalainen is their next GM. He becomes the first European GM in NHL history.
In the bigger picture, Kekalainen's biggest challenge — also shared by Davidson — will be to convince players, especially free agents, to want to play in Columbus. The only way to lure top-end free agents so far as been to grossly overpay them and that's no way to build a team.
“We want to send a message loud and clear that we're in a position of change,” Davidson said at Wednesday's news conference. “We're going forward the right way. This is about changing a culture and getting it to where I need to get it to.”
According to Adrian Dater, Ryan O’Reilly’s days in Colorado are over. Trade? Offer sheet? What a disaster for Colorado fans.
Cam Ward was really good for Carolina (I caught most of this game). I have been enjoying the Hurricanes a lot this year, they play an exciting brand of hockey.
Jiri Tlusty’s hot streak continues – he had two goals and three shots on goal for the Hurricanes last night. He is making the most of his top line minutes this season.
Justin Faulk had two helpers. He’s arguably the best American defenseman in the league (after Suter), and he has so much hockey ahead of him. What a find by Carolina. Faulk could be a 50-60-point d-man if he wasn’t as good defensively as he is (the Hurricanes give him the tough defensive assignments).
Carl Hagelin is playing some great hockey as of late – he scored again last night and gave the B’s fits all game long with his speed.
Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh combined to block 14 shots.
Patrice Bergeron continues to be Mr. Everything for the Bruins – face-offs, goals, defe