November 01, 2010
Through our years of video gaming, the reset button was a lifeline, a safety net, a chance to wipe the slate clean with the flick of a finger. We've all had our inexplicable terrible starts: Super Mario getting munched by a turtle on Level 1 or Little Mac succumbing to the right hook of Glass Joe on the first match on "Mike Tyson's Punch Out!"
But the reset button ... the reset button was always there to take the humiliation away.
The first month of the 2010-11 NHL season has seen some fast starts and some players who couldn't have started more slowly if they were waist-deep in a tar pit.
Here are the 10 players most in need of the reset button for their underwhelming campaigns. Or, at the very least, to have someone shut off the game, blow in the back of the cartridge and hit "power" again to see if conditions will be different.
Scoring 11 points in 12 games is by no means a terrible start for any player, and that includes Patrick Kane. But there are other factors that land him on this list: a minus-7 for a player that's never finished with a negative rating in October before, and some tough love from Coach Joe Quenneville as Kane resided in Q's Chateau de bow-wow. Something tells us Kane wouldn't mind keeping the stats, but would hit the reset button on his overall play.
9. Freddy Modin, F, Atlanta Thrashers
There was hope that Modin might be able to resurrect
his career as an offensive force in Coach
Mike Craig Ramsay's system in Atlanta,
and there's obviously still time for that to happen. But in October, Modin had
1 goal in 9 games and played to a minus-8, worst on the team. He was a healthy
scratch last Friday, promoting
Ramsay to spin: "He's a great person around the team. He's scored one goal
and we need him to score more but Freddy is a good person around your hockey
club." Never a good sign when the best a coach can muster is a celebration of
one's kind demeanor.
Four assists in 10 games for Dion, but he's playing to a minus-6 in an average of 23:45 per game. Some Toronto fans have taken to booing him for his defensive effort; to which Mark Spector and the Calgary faithful have responded, "Didja think you were trading for Ray Bourque here, Buds?"
No one expected Mike Modano to light the lamp with regularity in Detroit, given his mileage and this role on the team. But he's a team-worst minus-7 with 1 goal in 9 games, and Coach Mike Babcock has had to readjust the Wings' third line because of its ineffectiveness. Said Babcock, on Modano: "I expect it's going to take Mike some time until he gets comfortable and feels good. He's done a real good job. Just keep working."
Iggy's two goals in 11 games was his worst goal-scoring in October since 1999. He played to a minus-1, and scored three of his seven points in one game against the Colorado Avalanche. George Johnson writes that Iginla is "wriggling frantically in his personal straight jacket." Add in the team's overall struggles and rumors of players/coach rifts, and the captain would slam him his hand on the reset button ... while smiling in an Iginlian manner, of course.
The Lightning have been one of the best stories in hockey, even as Gagne has been one of the bigger busts among the NHL's significant offseason acquisitions. He was scoreless in six games despite the Bolts' offensive weaponry, playing to a minus-8. He's currently on injured reserve with a neck injury and is progressing slowly; not only because the injury has been difficult to diagnose, but also because he's Simon Gagne.
Yes, you could have reached into a hat of New Jersey Devils names, plucked out any of them and placed them on this list. Players like David Clarkson(notes) (2 points, 12 games, minus-8), Jason Arnott(notes) (minus-9) and Patrik Elias(notes) (minus-9) are in their own personal hells. But the nod here goes to Langenbrunner, who has 1 goal in 12 games and is a minus-7. He's also bounced around the lineup, unable to get any line rolling. Plus, he's the captain of the Titanic. The Devils don't just need a reset button; they need the flashy mind eraser thingy from "Men In Black" to cleanse the thoughts of the rest of the hockey world.
In June, Niemi was drinking from the Stanley Cup after backstopping the Blackhawks to the championship. In October, Niemi was drinking from a water bottle on the Sharks' bench, watching Antero Niittymaki(notes) get the majority of the starts while posting a 4-0 record. Niemi? He's 1-3 with an elephantine 4.49 GAA and a .854 save percentage.
While captain Craig Rivet(notes) has been a healthy scratch for poor play and to send a message to the Sabres, it's Myers' sophomore slump that's the story of the Buffalo blue line. He's a minus-10 with four points in 12 games (including 3 goals), logging 23:26 per game. His 20 giveaways are tied with Duncan Keith(notes) for the NHL lead among defensemen; difference being that Keith has 15 takeaways to Myers' four. Is it time for the Calder winner to take a seat?
His numbers aren't as bad as, say, Niemi's, with a 3.35 GAA and an 8.63 save percentage. But he's 1-5 while the Penguins are 6-5-1; which, by our math, means backup goalie Brent Johnson(notes) is 5-0-1, sporting an obscene 1.16 GAA and a .960 save percentage.
Out of all the slow starters in the NHL, Fleury's the one who most needs the reset button. The problem for Fleury isn't that he might lose his job, because he won't. The problem is that he's lost the confidence of the fans thanks to a month of bad losses and soft goals; and, increasingly, is losing the confidence of his coach, too.