Each NHL Team's Most Glaring Weakness Early in the 2013 Season

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IFebruary 11, 2013

Each NHL Team's Most Glaring Weakness Early in the 2013 Season

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    The NHL season has been underway for a few weeks now, and each team has had a chance to show off its strengths and glaring weaknesses.

    Although there are teams like the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks that have had an amazing start, they still are not perfect.

    This slideshow will look at each team as a hole, and it will look at areas like offense, defense, special teams and individual players in cases where one player has looked particularly bad.

    Through the first few games of the season, here is each team's most glaring weakness.

Anaheim Ducks: Penalty Kill

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    Through 11 games, the Anaheim Ducks have a 8-2-1 record, but they have one of the worst penalty-kill units in the entire league.

    The Ducks come in at 29th overall with a 67.5 success rate, and if this area was corrected, they might have another win or two.

Boston Bruins: Power Play

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    The Boston Bruins are going to be a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup in 2013, and although they are currently the best team in the Northeast Division, their power play is horrendous.

    The Bruins currently have the league's worst PP unit, and the team has only converted on 8.8 percent of their chances.

    After freeing $5 million in cap space through the Tim Thomas trade, the Bruins may be able to add a power-play specialist to help turn things around.

Buffalo Sabres: Defense

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    The Buffalo Sabres defense in 2013 has been one of the worst in the league, and Lindy Ruff's decision to scratch Tyler Myers against the New York Islanders may be a wake-up call to the entire defense.

    The Sabres have given up 3.58 goals a game, which puts them second in the league for goals allowed per game.

    It also doesn't help that, on average, Buffalo has given up the 28th-most shots per game in the league with the Sabres surrendering 33.7 shots a game.

Calgary Flames: Penalty Kill

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    The Calgary Flames have a sub-.500 winning percentage through their first few games of the season, and they are scoring at least 3.00 goals a game, but their penalty kill is 27th in the league.

    The Flames PK unit has only been successful 71.9 percent of the time, and this is an area that really needs to be improved.

Carolina Hurricanes: Penalty Kill

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    The Carolina Hurricanes have played well through the first few games of the season, and the main area in which they could improve is their penalty kill.

    Through the first few games, the Hurricanes are 23rd in the league with a 77.3 success rate while down a man.

Chicago Blackhawks: Faceoffs

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    The Chicago Blackhawks have been one of the NHL's top teams through the beginning of the season, and they have virtually no flaws.

    If there would be one thing to point out for the Blackhawks thus far, it is that they are winning fewer faceoffs than normal. The 'Hawks currently are 14th in the league drawing at 50.5 percent, and this is an area they will likely improve going forward.

Colorado Avalanche: Special Teams

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    The Colorado Avalanche's special teams in general have been among the worst in the NHL.

    The power play is currently ranked 29th in the league with a 9.1 conversion rate, and the power play is 18th in the league with a 78.0 success rate.

    If the Avs can increase the success of their special teams, they can make a turnaround and get back to above .500.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Goal Scoring

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    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the worst scoring team in the league, and it was expected when you consider they traded their top goal scorer over the offseason.

    The Blue Jackets have a bunch of young players on their roster, but they won't be successful if they only average 2.00 goals a game.

Dallas Stars: Goal Scoring

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    The Dallas Stars are another team in the NHL that has lacked consistency in scoring during the young season to date.

    The Stars are 29th in the league with 2.08 goals a game. This is an area that needs to improve if the team hopes to make the playoffs in 2013.

Detroit Red Wings: Defense

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    The Detroit Red Wings defense has been in shambles because of various injuries to date, and their lack of defense really is reflected in the stat sheet.

    The Wings have the 18th-highest goals-against average at 2.67 goals a game, and it is an area the team really needs to address.

    It was bad when the team lost Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement and Brad Stuart to the San Jose Sharks, but the team didn't foresee the injuries it has suffered to date.

Edmonton Oilers: Goal Scoring

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    The Edmonton Oilers have one of the most promising forward groups in the league, but thus far, goal scoring has been one of the team's weaknesses. 

    The Oilers' have the 24th-ranked offense in the league with an average of 2.18 goals per game thus far in the 2013 season.

Florida Panthers: Goaltending

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    The Florida Panthers have not had the greatest goaltending thus far in 2013, and the team should really consider giving Jacob Markstrom a shot in goal.

    Jose Theodore is 4-4-0 with a 3.11 GAA, and the Panthers have surrendered 3.50 goals a game through 10 games in 2013.

Los Angeles Kings: Goal Scoring

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    The 2011-12 Stanley Cup champions have not played well thus far in 2013, and the team's inability to score goals is a major reason why the team has a sub-.500 record.

    Through nine games, the Kings are averaging 2.10 goals a game, and the team has looked more like the first-half Kings that struggled early in 2011-12, instead of the second-half team that steamrolled in the playoffs.

Minnesota Wild: Goal Scoring

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    The Minnesota Wild added Zach Parise this summer, and he has been great with 10 points thus far, but the rest of the offense has not stepped up as expected.

    Dany Heatley only has six points, Devin Setoguchi has only three points and Pierre-Marc Bouchard has three points.

    The team needs to score more goals going forward, because the team is in a very tough Northwest Division.

Montreal Canadiens: Faceoffs

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    The Montreal Canadiens are off to a great start in 2013 under bench boss Michel Therrien, and the team has really fired on all cylinders.

    However, faceoffs have been a major negative for the Habs, as they have drawn at 45.6 percent thus far.

    The team is still winning games, but winning draws needs to be a priority going forward.

Nashville Predators: Goal Scoring

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    The Ryan Suter-less Nashville Predators are off to a great start in 2013, and their play has been quite exceptional.

    The special teams, goaltending and defense has been exceptional, but the team still lacks a natural goal scorer.

    The team only averages 2.10 goals per game, and the Preds should really consider adding a goal scorer at the deadline.

New Jersey Devils: Faceoffs

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    The New Jersey Devils sit atop the Eastern Conference as one of the top teams in the NHL, and they are clicking in multiple areas this season. 

    However, the one area the Devils have come up short in is winning faceoffs. With the Devils only winning 46.6 percent of their faceoffs, it is something that needs to be improved.

New York Islanders: Goaltending

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    The New York Islanders have had a nice start, but the team is giving up a lot of goals thus far, and it is something that needs to change if they want to remain competitive.

    The goaltending has been the one area the Isles could improve on, as Evgeni Nabokov is 4-4-1 with a 3.00 GAA.

    If Nabokov can lower this number, the Islanders may be able to remain a playoff contender during the season.

New York Rangers: Power Play

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    The New York Rangers are 6-5-0 through their first 11 games, and if they had a functioning power play, they would be at least 8-3-0. There have been multiple games in which the Rangers' PP unit was blanked, and it resulted in a loss.

    If the Rangers' power play can improve from a 10.8 percent conversion rate, they can be successful moving forward.

Ottawa Senators: No. 1 Center

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    The Ottawa Senators have had a great year thus far, but their glaring weakness is the lack of a No. 1 center. Jason Spezza could miss the rest of the season after undergoing back surgery, and the team needs to replace him for the interim.

    Kyle Turris could prove to be a nice temporary top center, but he is better suited to be the No. 2 center at this point in his career.

Philadelphia Flyers: Defense

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    The Philadelphia Flyers' biggest weakness has been their defense since the summer after they failed to address the loss of Matt Carle and find a replacement top defender for Chris Pronger.

    When you factor in the injuries they have encountered at the NHL and AHL level, it stands to reason that the Flyers really need to address this at the trade deadline.

Phoenix Coyotes: Consistency from Mike Smith

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    The Phoenix Coyotes entered the season as one of the top Western Conference teams in the league, and their playoff hopes were strongly linked to the performance of goaltender Mike Smith. 

    Thus far, the biggest weakness has been the consistency of Mike Smith. At times, he has looked very good for the team, and at other times, he has looked bad.

    He is 3-3-1 on the year with two shutouts, but his GAA of 2.89 illustrates how bad he has been in the games he has lost.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Bottom-Six Scoring

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    The Pittsburgh Penguins really don't have a major flaw on their roster, but one area that would be wise to address is their bottom-six scoring.

    Outside of the top six, which features top threats like Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz and James Neal, the scoring drops off a bit in the bottom six.

    Adding another scoring threat would put the Pens over the top.

San Jose Sharks: N/A

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    The San Jose Sharks are one of the top teams in the league, and when you look at their lineup and stats to date, they do not have a glaring weakness.

    The team is scoring goals, not surrendering a lot of goals, they have top special teams units and are winning tons of faceoffs.

    Right now, the Sharks are one of the few teams in the league that are set.

St. Louis Blues: Goals Allowed

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    The St. Louis Blues have the potential to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference this year, but right now the team is giving up too many goals a game.

    It doesn't help that Jaroslav Halak is currently sidelined with an injury, but the Blues need to shore up this weakness.

    The team has solid special teams units and is scoring, but it needs to work on keeping the puck out of the net.

Tampa Bay Lightning: N/A

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning are another team that does not have a glaring weakness throughout their lineup.

    The Bolts have a league-leading offense, they have had consistency on the draw, they have top special teams units and they are a well-built team overall.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Goaltending

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    Although the team is off to a very good start, James Reimer and Ben Scrivens have not yet proven they are the longterm answer in net.

    If the Leafs want to be a legitimate playoff contender, adding a proven goaltender would address their biggest weakness.

    While their stats are good right now, the duo needs to prove themselves throughout the season. Neither have any playoff experience at the NHL level and if the Leafs had a chance to ad a veteran proven goaltender, odds are Dave Nonis would jump at the chance.

    This is not to say that the team's goaltending is bad, but having an established goaltender is what separates them with other top contenders.

Vancouver Canucks: Penalty Kill

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    The Vancouver Canucks are currently one of the top teams in the Western Conference, and they have had a lot of success in 2013. 

    However, the Canucks have the 10th-worst PK unit in the league with only a 77.8 success rate. Addressing this area would realty help the Canucks, and it would make them even more of a threat.

Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin

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    Through 12 games, Alex Ovechkin has four goals and four assists for eight points. In 2013, Ovechkin has become a predictable player and one that has not looked like the "Great Eight" of old.

    His inability to play at an elite level has translated into the Capitals posting a record of 3-8-1 through 12 games.

    If Ovie doesn't get his game together real soon, there will be a huge shakeup in Washington.

Winnipeg Jets: Penalty Kill

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    The Winnipeg Jets have the worst PK unit in the entire NHL, and it is something that really needs to be addressed.

    The team's success rate on the PK is currently 66.7, and it is surprising that the team has a .500 record with such a terrible short-handed squad.

    The team has played better than the Capitals thus far, and that is something that no one expected in 2013.