The 2011-12 season is still young, but already, certain players and teams are not playing up to preseason expectations.
A little over a month into the season, the league is starting to find its shape as over-achievers, under-achievers, and middle-grounders alike begin either establishing themselves as forces to be reckoned with, or working their way to obscurity.
It is time to weed out the worst of the under-achievers—players, teams, and organizations have made the toxic list to follow.
And so it is written: the biggest disappointments of the 2011-12 season so far.
Bryzgalov has not come as advertised, plain and simple.
In his 12 starts as a Philadelphia Flyer, “Bryz” has picked up only six wins while posting a 2.9 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.
For a Flyers team aiming for its third Stanley Cup in franchise history, and first since back-to-back championships in 1975 and 1976, Bryzgalov will need to pick up his play and perform like the elite goaltender he established himself as in Phoenix.
What do you get when you put these ingredients on the same line—a young gun who has reached the 30-goal mark in his last three NHL seasons, an elite center with an almost point-per-game career, an Olympic Gold Medal with Team Canada and a Stanley Cup ring, and the reigning Hart Memorial trophy winner for the Most Valuable Player in the NHL?
Well, not a whole lot so far this season.
Of course I am referring to the Anaheim Ducks' top line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry.
In 45 total games played between the three stars, they have recorded 25 points between hem. For what is widely considered to be the best line in the NHL, this type of production just isn’t going to cut it.
The Ducks' sub-par 5-7-3 record indicates that they will need more production from their big three this year.
Ryan, Getzlaf and Perry will need to collectively find the creative cohesion that has given opposing defenses chills in recent years if they want to carry their squad back to playoff competition.
Well, to put it neatly, Eric Staal has had an absolutely atrocious start to the 2011-12 season.
The perennial superstar sniper has picked the twine just three times in the first months of play, while adding a feeble two assists, giving him a grand total of five points in 15 games.
Oh yes, he owns a hideous league-worst minus-16 plus-minus rating to boot.
This is a player who has been a virtual lock to record at least 70 points every season for the last six years, twice breaking the 40-goal plateau and even notching 100 points in his sophomore year.
Things need to change fast for the floundering Carolina captain, or he will be the primary scapegoat as his team takes a very steep, very shameful, slide to utter insignificance.
From General Manager Scott Howson all the way down to goaltender Steve Mason, the Columbus Blue Jackets are covered in the paint of disappointment, as a fresh coat seems to be applied every time this band of merry bottom-dwellers takes the ice.
There is just so much wrong with this 2-11-1 squad that it would be impossible to examine all of its failures, but allow me to give you the lowlights.
Once an up-and-coming young goalie, Steve Mason has proven to everyone that he does not have what it takes to start in the NHL, posting a vile .869 save percentage and an astonishing 3.7 goals-against average.
Mammoth offseason acquisition, Jeff Carter, has missed most of the start of the season with injuries; he has only appeared in five games and has yet to find the back of the net.
Lastly, while the infinitely better division rival St. Louis Blues canned head coach Davis Payne in favor of Ken Hitchcock, Scott Howson has yet to make any significant move to either relieve Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel of his position, or find a replacement who could help right the ship in Columbus.
Despite the high expectations of the Blue Jackets faithful heading into this season, the team is nothing short of a travesty.