Jarome Iginla (left) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (centre) and Phil Kessel (right) are all goalless thus far. (Getty)The announcement of the shortened NHL season came along with plenty of questions centering around how players and teams would adjust without having a full training camp or any exhibition games.
A quick look at the NHL statistics proves that, in most cases the usual suspects have found their way to – or at least close to – the top of the scoring charts. Yes there are surprises like Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cory Conacher, who has 12 points in eight games and Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom,who after eight games is on pace for an Erik Karlsson type season, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary. Remember when Aaron Voros started the 2008-2009 campaign with nine points in eight games?
However, along with some hot starts comes a handful of just the opposite, a list players who’ve been unable to get a kick start on the shortened season and find themselves goalless with a chunk of games now gone.
Here are the biggest names in the bunch:
Jarome Iginla – Calgary Flames: The 35-year-old Flames captain does have a point in four of his last five games, but his inability to find the back of the net has been one of the many factors that has contributed to Calgary’s 1-3-2 start. Yes it has only been six games without a goal, but in a 48-game season there isn’t a lot of time to make up ground. And slow starts have become a trend in Iginla’s game. Last season he had just five goals in his first 19 games and in 2010-2011 he only scored twice in the Flames first 16 outings. The bright side? Iginla finished both those seasons with 30-plus goals.
Ryan-Nugent Hopkins – Edmonton Oilers: He was one of the more active players during the lockout playing for Canada at the World Juniors along with 19 games in the American Hockey League, but that hasn’t helped the 19-year-old get off to a quick start with the Oilers. If a playoff spot is the goal in Edmonton then Nugent-Hopkins is going to need to be a primary offensive contributor, especially on a team that isn’t overly strong on defense or in goal.
Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs: His entire career it seems has been a string of hot and cold streaks and right now Kessel is mired in a drought. Ironically Kessel usually catches fire at the beginning of the season – last year he had nine goals in the Leafs first eight games – only to have his scoring numbers level out somewhere down the road. His nine-game goalless streak isn’t from lack of trying though; he leads the league with 40 shots on goal so it’s likely only a matter of time before he finds the net.
Shea Weber – Nashville Predators: Ok yes, the seemingly obvious conclusion would be that the loss of Ryan Suter has and will eat away at Weber’s scoring numbers, but if you look at his stats in the last two seasons you’ll notice that even with Suter in the lineup Weber has struggled to blow pucks past goaltenders early in the season.
Mike Richards – Los Angeles Kings: Mike Richards goal scoring numbers have declined year-over-year since the 2009-2010 season and he only scored 18 goals in 74 games during the 2011-2012 campaign. The Kings don’t score a lot of goals to begin with, but as a player who sees the ice in just about every situation Richards should be able to finish on his share of scoring opportunities.
Henrik Sedin – Vancouver Canucks: Nine games without a goal is nothing for a player who went 22-straight games without finding the back of the net between February and April last season. Henrik has never been known for his goal scoring ability, that’s what he has a twin brother for.