Monday’s edition of the Hockey Daily Dose focused on quick-starting players who may or may not be able to maintain their torrid early season paces. To complete the circle, let’s take a look at normally strong performers who have been anything but to see if some of them can bounce back.
FORWARDS STUCK IN PLACE
Jason Brough of Pro Hockey Talk listed 10 players who are “killing” fantasy teams, but I’ll take a look at the guys whose expectations were especially high (sorry, Saku Koivu). Much like Monday’s column, I’ll use shooting percentage as one barometer for how they’re faring so far.
Henrik Zetterberg: 2 G, 1 A for 3 P in 9 games; -4 rating; 42 Shots on Goal with a 4.8 percent rate. (Last season: 80 pts; 11.1 shooting percentage)
Ville Leino: 1 G, 1 A, 2 P; -4; 5 SOG and 20 shooting % (Last season: 53 points; 14.4 career shooting percentage)
Derek Roy: 1 G, 3 A, 4 P; 20 SOG and 5 shooting % (35 pts in 35 GP last season; 13 shooting %)
Jarome Iginla: 2 G, 2 A, 4 P; 22 SOG and 9.1 shooting % (Last season: 86 pts; 13.3 career percentage)
Chris Stewart: 2 G, 1 A, 3 P; 37 SOG and 5.4 shooting % - 25 PIM (Last season: 53 pts and 13.3 shooting %)
Michael Grabner: 3 G, 0 A, 3 P; 13 SOG and 23.1 shooting % (Last season: 52 pts; 13.8 career %)
Looking at that list, I’d break those forwards into three categories.
1. Shooters who should start getting bounces
Zetteberg, Roy and Stewart are the polar opposite of guys like Phil Kessel: their shots just aren’t finding the back of the net at the rate that they should. Each one of them should have about twice as many goals as they've ended up with, while various factors (Detroit’s scoring drought, Roy’s rustiness, etc.) should work themselves out. Stewart also brings impressive penalty minute totals to the table, so he hasn’t been a complete waste.
2. Slow starters
The former group might fit into this category as well, but Iginla has become notorious in fantasy circles as a slow starter. It doesn’t necessarily happen every season, but for whatever reason, he tends to score at a higher rate as the year goes along. Of course, at some point he’ll inevitably go from “slow starter” to just flat-out past his prime, so that habit makes fantasy owners nervous.
3. Post-contract year letdowns
During the 2010-11 season, Leino and Grabner were a) playing over their heads for new deals and b) in really fortunate situations. Leino received easy matchups in Philly (not to mention quality teammates) while Grabner received a lot of opportunities by default because the Islanders had limited options.
Both boast high shooting percentages but low results, which means two things: either they need to start firing the puck on the net more often or their hot streaks are over. It might even be a combination of those two factors.
Then again, Leino’s luck might resume in a similar way to his nice breaks in Philly; he’s getting a plum job beside Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek, at least for the time being.