There were numerous disappointments in the first half; the free-spending Buffalo Sabres and well-built Washington Capitals were among them. But two that really stuck out were fellow playoff teams from a year ago: Anaheim and Tampa Bay. Why were they the biggest disappointments of the first half? Patrick and I explain…
By Ryan Porth
There is no doubt that the Anaheim Ducks are the most disappointing team of the first half. Not just because they sit on the outside of the playoff picture, but rather the way they have fallen apart in such a short time.
Late last season, no one could contain the top line of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan. They went on a furious playoff push and grabbed home-ice advantage in the first round – without their starting goaltender, no less. Despite an early exit from the playoffs, the Ducks were primed to contend for the Pacific Division this season.
Instead, halfway through the 2011-12 season, they are now looking to shake things up. Firing former bench boss Randy Carlyle hasn’t lit a spark in the team like GM Bob Murray had hoped. The Ducks were 7-13-4 when the long-time coach was fired, and are just 4-9-2 since Bruce Boudreau took over as coach.
Over the last month-plus, trade rumors have swirled around the team’s best players, most notably Bobby Ryan. The fact that it has gotten to this point, where Murray labeled Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu as the only ‘untouchables’, is truly appalling. Not too long ago the Ducks possessed the NHL’s top offensive line. Now the team is pondering whether they should break up the underachieving trio.
Perry, the league’s lone 50-goal scorer in 2010-11, is on pace for 31 goals. Getzlaf and Ryan are on pace for 55 and 48 points each, which would be their lowest total since their respective rookie campaigns.
Many assumed the Ducks would be a better team than last year due to the fact that they had a healthy Jonas Hiller between the pipes. That obviously hasn’t been the case, as Hiller boasts a ghastly 3.14 goals-against average and .898 save percentage, thanks in part to the team’s below average defense corps.
Anaheim is the NHL’s biggest first half disappointment. Instead of jostling for the division lead, Boudreau’s Ducks find themselves battling with Columbus for the NHL and Western Conference cellar.
Tampa Bay Lightning
By Patrick Hoffman
After getting to within one game of the Stanley Cup final last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have struggled to a 17-18-3 record so far this season. The team is currently is 12th in the Eastern Conference and 24th in the NHL.
There are several reasons why the Lightning are having trouble this season. For starters, the team’s goaltending has been subpar to say the least.
When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman acquired then 41-year-old netminder Dwayne Roloson, Yzerman went on to look like a genius. Roloson won 18 games for the Lightning last season and played his rear end off to get his club to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final against the Boston Bruins.
This season has been a much different story for the now 42-year-old netminder. ‘Roli’ is 6-8-1 with a 3.81 goals-against average, .882 save percentage, and one shutout. These numbers are way below average for an NHL starting goaltender.
Backup goaltender Mathieu Garon, who has done slightly better than Roloson this season, has yet to find a consistent grove between the pipes for the Bolts. Garon is 11-10-2 with a 2.84 GAA, .904 save percentage and one shutout.
Secondly, the team does not have enough offensive depth. Yes, guys like Steven Stamkos (28g-17a), Martin St. Louis (10g-21a), and Vincent Lecavalier (14g-13a) have all stepped up to provide offense for the Bolts this season.
Unfortunately, other members of the Lightning have yet to follow the three mentioned above. After Lecavalier, the point totals for the team’s forwards begin to dip. Players such as Ryan Malone (7g-13a) and Teddy Purcell (7g-14a) are the only two forwards after Stamkos, St. Louis, and Lecavalier to have 20 points or more.
Lastly, the team’s defense has sprung many leaks this season. The team is last in the league in GAA by allowing 3.34 goals against per game, while also being 28th in the league in goals allowed with 127.
It has been a completely underwhelming year for the Lightning, seemingly a step back from last year. One has to wonder if this has been a wake-up call that both the team and its staff need in order to get consistently better going forward into the season’s second half.
Photos credit: Getty Images
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