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Cullen: Slumps affecting big-name NHL scorers

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Scott Cullen
2/16/2012 2:33:29 PM
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The NHL season can be a grind and it's long enough that even the best players can run into scoring slumps. Here's a look at a dozen players that have hit a scoring dry spell lately and the circumstances surrounding the droughts.

Jonathan Toews, C and Marian Hossa, RW, Chicago Blackhawks - Since the Blackhawks have lost nine straight, it's no surprise that they have players that aren't producing, but it is surprising that Toews and Hossa, two of Chicago's most consistently reliable performers have fallen on hard times. Toews' slide isn't likely to continue, as he's registered 30 shots on goal in eight games (higher than his season average of 3.18 per game), managing just two assists and a minus-4 rating.

On the other hand, Hossa has managed just 15 shots on goal while tallying a goal and an assist in the last eight games. His goal did come in Chicago's last game, so maybe he's ready to start breaking out of this skid, but the Blackhawks may need to consider shaking up the lines -- even pairing Hossa with Toews -- to help get Hossa back on track.

David Krejci, C and Tyler Seguin, RW, Boston Bruins - After a slow start, Krejci performed at a high level for a couple of months, scoring 29 points in a 25-game span, but without Nathan Horton on his wing, Krejci has been held off the scoresheet in each of his last seven games, even getting demoted to the third line. He's more of a playmaker than a shooter, but 11 shots on goal in those seven games isn't nearly enough to maintain an adequate level of production.

Seguin was better than a point-per-game scorer through early December, but it's not reasonable to expect him to carry that pace for an entire season as a 20-year-old. He has two points and is minus-6 in the last eight games but, not unlike Toews, Seguin has actually increased his shots on goal in that time frame, registering 35 in seven games. Five shots on goal per game is a great recipe for offensive production and Seguin's ice time has also increased lately (19:20 per game in the last six games), so the numbers should bounce back soon.

Mike Richards, C, Los Angeles Kings - When he suffered a concussion on December 1, Richards led the Kings with 13 goals. He scored in his first two games back, but now has one goal in his last 22 games and two points in his last dozen games. His linemates haven't helped. His most common linemates lately (via www.leftwinglock.com) have been Dustin Penner and Jarret Stoll, neither of whom has been very productive either, so the Kings have resorted to putting Richards with call-ups Jordan Nolan and Dwight King. Now you see why the Kings are considered a potential suitor for Rick Nash.

John Tavares, C, New York Islanders - The hottest player in the league through the month of January, Tavares two points and is minus-5 in his last seven games. Not all is lost, however. Tavares has 24 shots on goal (3.43 per game) in that span and while that's down from his season average of 3.71 per game, it still indicates that Tavares is getting enough chances to be productive.

Evander Kane, LW, Winnipeg Jets - The 20-year-old winger scored 18 goals in his first 36 games this season, then hit a slump, then suffered a concussion, then returned to the lineup while remaining in his previous slump. Overall, Kane now has one point and is minus-5 in his last 10 games and that lack of production has also cost him his spot on the Jets' top line, as Andrew Ladd is now skating with Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, leaving Kane with some combination of two of Kyle Wellwood, Nik Antropov and Alex Burmistrov.

Derek Roy, C, Buffalo Sabres - After scoring a point-per-game last season, before suffering a torn quad, Roy returned to action this year and hasn't been nearly as productive. For the season, he has 27 points in 54 games, but that is outstanding production compared to his recent run of four points in his last 19 games. It goes without saying that the season has been a mess for the Sabres, but Roy's lack of production has contributed to his appearance in recent trade rumours.

Cam Fowler, D, Anaheim Ducks - It's enough that he's a minus-44 through less than two seasons in the NHL, but Fowler was at least a productive offensive defenceman as a rookie. His sophomore campaign, on the other hand, has been marred by his scoring two points in his last 18 games. Before giving up on Fowler entirely, however, it's worth noting that he does have 38 shots on goal (2.11 per game) which is a higher rate than his standard (1.51 per game) this season and Fowler has been getting first unit power play time lately with a talented quartet of Ducks forwards.

Ryan Smyth, LW, Edmonton Oilers - There was no way that 36-year-old Smyth was going to keep his early pace, when he scored 24 points in the first 22 games, but he's regressed in serious fashion, managing two points in his last 18 games. It's no coincidence that playmaking centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been out of the Oilers' lineup for the bulk of that time, so Edmonton's scoring has primarily come from Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle, but Smyth isn't getting the chances that he was earlier in the season.

Kyle Turris, C, Ottawa Senators - To be fair, 22-year-old Turris is enjoying a breakout offensive season, thriving in his increased role with the Senators, but part of fulfilling a second-line centre role is producing consistently. After scoring 13 points in his first 17 games with the Sens, Turris has one point and is minus-4 in his last 10 games. To Turris' credit, he has 33 shots on goal in those 10 games (ahead of his 2.56 average with Ottawa), so his numbers ought to bounce back.

Chris Stewart, RW, St. Louis Blues - When Stewart tallied 15 goals in 26 games for the Blues after he was acquired in a trade from Colorado last season, it looked like St. Louis would have a goal-scoring power forward to anchor their offence. This year has brought far less production -- 11 goals, 22 points in 53 games -- and Stewart has recently been demoted to the fourth line after managing three points in his last 12 games. Stewart scored on 22.4% of his shots for the Blues last season, an entirely unsustainable number, so it's no surprise that his goal production has dipped, especially since he is finishing a career-low 8.9% of his shots on goal.

Just as Stewart wasn't as good as his Blues numbers suggested last season (when he had 2.57 shots per game), he's better than his current production (coming with 2.32 shots per game) indicates too. Now he just has to find his way back onto a scoring line and maybe he can bounce back at least a little in the goal-scoring department.

Tim Connolly, C, Toronto Maple Leafs - Coming into the season, Connolly was pencilled in as the Maple Leafs' number one centre. He got hurt (which was marked in pen, incidentally) and hasn't been able to settle into a steady spot. Even so, Connolly had 23 points in his first 28 games, which was more than adequate production.

Since then, including Wednesday night's overtime winner in Edmonton, Connolly has three points in his last 18 games, a stretch during which he's managed a paltry 26 shots on goal (which includes an uptick to nine in the last three games). True, he's been relegated to a third-line role because Mikhail Grabovski and Tyler Bozak have been productive in scoring roles, but Connolly has to be better.

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.

Toews and Hossa (Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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