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Cullen: Still seeking their first NHL goals of the season

Scott Cullen
11/1/2011 3:54:49 PM
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The old saying goes that teams can't win the Stanley Cup in October, but they can lose it. Getting off to a slow start can make the rest of the season an uphill climb, just to reach the postseason, let alone be positioned to win.

The same holds true for those charged with scoring goals.

They can't win scoring titles (or set career-highs) in October, but a slow start can leave them fighting uphill for the rest of the season.

So today a look at some of the more notable players that have not yet scored a goal in the 2011-2012 NHL season.

First, the players that are still looking for the first goals of the 2011-2012 season with the most shots on goal:

RANK PLAYER TEAM POS. SHOTS
1. P.K. Subban Montreal D 35
2. Dan Boyle San Jose D 35
3. Antoine Vermette Columbus C 29
4. Dennis Seidenberg Boston D 28
5. Blake Wheeler Winnipeg RW 28
6. Jack Skille Florida RW 27
7. David Booth Vancouver LW 27
8. Duncan Keith Chicago D 26
9. Kevin Bieksa Vancouver D 26
10. Erik Johnson Colorado D 24
11. Paul Martin Pittsburgh D 24
12. Steve Sullivan Pittsburgh LW 24
13. Joe Corvo Boston D 23
14. Danny Cleary Detroit RW 23
15. Magnus Paajarvi Edmonton LW 23
16. Brent Seabrook Chicago D 22
17. Grant Clitsome Columbus D 22
18. Mikko Koivu Minnesota C 22
19. Jamie Langenbrunner St. Louis RW 22
20. Johnny Boychuk Boston D 21
21. Brad Richardson Los Angeles RW 21
22. Rostislav Klesla Phoenix D 21
23. John Carlson Washington D 21
24. Jeff Carter Columbus C 20
25. Dmitry Kulikov Florida D 20

It's not like this list includes great snipers, but Vermette, Wheeler, Booth, Cleary, Koivu, Carter and Sullivan (maybe) could all be considered top-six forwards and therefore have expectations that they would score some goals this season.

From this year's list of the goalless, here is a look back at those with the most goals last season:

RANK PLAYER TEAM POS. 10-11 GOALS
1. Jeff Carter Columbus C 36
2. Dan Cleary Detroit RW 26
3. Blake Comeau N.Y. Islanders RW 24
4. Brandon Dubinsky N.Y. Rangers LW 24
5. David Booth Vancouver LW 23
6. Dustin Penner Los Angeles LW 23
7. Martin Havlat San Jose RW 22
8. Andy McDonald St. Louis LW 20
9. Tyler Ennis Buffalo LW 20
10. Mike Santorelli Florida C 20
11. Antoine Vermette Columbus C 19
12. Blake Wheeler Winnipeg RW 18
13. Bryan Little Winnipeg C 18
14. Mikko Koivu Minnesota C 17
15. Jason Blake Anaheim LW 16
16. Saku Koivu Anaheim C 15
17. Magnus Paajarvi Edmonton LW 15
18. Sam Gagner Edmonton C 15
19. Tyler Bozak Toronto C 15

An early-season injury obviously affects Carter, and is a big reason why he's on the first two lists. Cleary had a career year as a goal-scorer last year and this year could just be some regression to his norm.

Comeau has fallen out of favour with the Islanders, as has Penner with the Kings. Booth is getting a fresh start in Vancouver.

Injuries have affected Havlat, McDonald, Santorelli, Blake and Gagner. Vermette, Wheeler, Little, both Koivus, Paajarvi and Bozak are all capable of providing offence, but haven't yet.

Now to the uphill battle that these players are facing. Of all the players to have played last October and finished without a goal, these are the players that finished with the most goals:

RANK PLAYER TEAM POS. SHOTS
1. Mikhail Grabovski Toronto C 29
2. Martin Havlat San Jose RW 22
3. Brad Marchand Boston LW 21
4. James van Riemsdyk Philadelphia LW 21
5. Mike Ribeiro Dallas C 19
6. Henrik Sedin Vancouver C 19
7. Blake Wheeler Winnipeg RW 18
8. Martin Erat Nashville RW 17
9. Nathan Gerbe Buffalo LW 16
10. Jakub Voracek Philadelphia RW 14
11. Nick Foligno Ottawa LW 14
12. Mark Recchi Boston RW 14
13. P.K. Subban Montreal D 14

Only four managed to finish with more than 20 and two, Marchand and van Riemsdyk, were young players growing into offensive roles as the season progressed.

What can be taken away from this look at those still seeking their first goals of the season?

Well, Blake Wheeler and Martin Havlat are apparently slow starters when it comes to lighting the lamp, but there may be some opportunity to find "buy-low" value in some of the players that have yet to score.

Vermette is starting to have some decent games on a line with R.J. Umberger and rookie Ryan Johansen and Booth definitely has a chance to succeed playing with Ryan Kesler in Vancouver.

When they return to good health, McDonald and Ennis have the skills to be solid scorers.

No one likes getting out the gate slowly, but some of these players can still be very productive performers for their teams (and yours) over the rest of the season.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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