The Most NHL Disappointing Superstars in 2013-14 so Far
There's nothing like a slump in the beginning of a season to weigh heavily on a superstar.
A player who has not scored or has barely scratched the surface cannot hide from a lack of production. He must look at a fat zero or a skinny one next to his name in the goals scored column on the stat sheet.
That's almost always the first number that gets noticed. And it's painful.
A slump at the beginning of the year does not have to be fatal. However, it takes a player of very high character to get over early-season troubles.
Here's a look at the NHL's most disappointing superstars as the second month of the season takes hold.
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
It's been a disastrous start for the Philadelphia Flyers. They have the worst record in the Metropolitan Division and their best player has not scored a goal.
Claude Giroux is in a painful slump. He has fired 31 shots on goal since the start of the season and none of them have gone in the net.
Giroux is left searching for explanations and the Flyers are left searching for scoring. They are averaging 1.47 goals per game—the worst in the league—and that's not likely to change until Giroux starts lighting the lamp on a regular basis.
In addition to his goalless streak, Giroux has an abysmal minus-11 rating. He has managed to win 51.2 percent of his faceoffs, but that's not enough for him to hold his head up high.
It was just over a year ago that former Flyers coach Peter Laviolette referred to Giroux as the "best player in the world."
Those words are now mocking Giroux. He is a player who scored 28 goals and 93 points in the 2011-12 season and 25 goals the season before. He can obviously score and dictate the pace of a game.
Giroux is not performing, and the Flyers are suffering badly.
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
Shea Weber is the best defenseman on the Nashville Predators, and he has one of the best shots in the league from the blue line.
Weber has managed to score four goals and three assists in his first 16 games. While his .44 points per game mark is just a bit below his .55 ppg mark, that's not why Weber has been disappointing.
His defensive play has been an issue. Weber has a minus-six rating, and he needs to perform better. Weber has not been in the negative numbers since the 2007-08 season, and head coach Barry Trotz needs a lot more from him in defensive performance.
With starting goalie Pekka Rinne (hip infection) on the sidelines, the Nashville defensemen must step up their performance in support of backup goalie Carter Hutton.
Nobody needs to step up more than Weber, the captain of the Predators.
Vincent Lecavalier, Philadelphia Flyers
You may be sensing a trend in this piece.
When it comes to disappointing superstars, the Philadelphia Flyers are well-represented.
Vincent Lecavalier was supposed to give the Flyers a second-line center who could come close to matching what Claude Giroux, their first-line center, could do.
To that extent, the Flyers were correct. Lecavalier has scored five goals and Giroux (as mentioned earlier) has not gotten on the board. However, Lecavalier has just two assists and is minus-seven on the season.
He looks significantly slower than he did in his prime years with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and it seems like his old team was correct in buying him out at the end of the 2013 season. The Lightning is in first place in the Atlantic Division.
Lecavalier has been abysmal in the face-off circle, winning just 39.4 percent of the draws he has taken.
Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild
If there was one player who seemed likely to end up on this at the start of the season, Dany Heatley was it.
Heatley is a former two-time 50-goal scorer with the Ottawa Senators, but he has been trending downward for seven years.
While the early part of that spiral included a 41-goal year and two 39-goal seasons, Heatley has not topped the 30-goal mark since the 2009-10 season.
So, while it's not surprising that Heatley has just two goals and two assists through his first 17 games, it's disappointing nevertheless.
The Wild need Heatley to find a way to score 20 goals this season, but he often looks like he is skating in quicksand and that the game is too fast for him.
Stephen Weiss, Detroit Red Wings
Stephen Weiss was one of the Detroit Red Wings primary free-agent signings in the offseason.
Weiss was expected to center the team's No. 2 line and give the team steady scoring and a solid presence.
Head coach Mike Babcock was not expecting Weiss to play like top-line center Henrik Zetterberg, but he was expecting Weiss to score at least 20 goals.
Weiss had scored 20 or more in his last three non-lockout seasons with the Florida Panthers.
Weiss has had a tough time contributing anything to the Red Wings. He has been held to two goals and one assist in his first 17 games and he also has a minus-three rating.
Weiss is trying to maintain a brave front. He told Bob Duff of the Windsor Star that he is simply concentrating on playing his game and not worried about his point totals.
“I’m not going to worry about results,” Weiss said. “I’m just going to go out and play and try and be as loose as I can."
That has not worked this season and Weiss has been a very disappointing player. That's quite a comedown for someone who was a star in his days with the Florida Panthers.
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
It hasn't been the best of starts for Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins.
The poor start is not showing in his point total as Chara has scored two goals and three assists in 15 games.
Chara has the hardest shot in the league and the Bruins expect him to contribute on the offensive end, either by shooting from the point or taking a spot on the power play near the front of the net, where he can use his 6'9", 260-pound frame to screen opposing goalies.
However, the main thing Chara brings to the table is his defensive ability. Chara is supposed to be one of the league's premier shutdown defensemen.
That often manifests itself in a superb plus-minus figure. Chara was plus-33 in the Bruins Stanley Cup championship season of 2010-11, and he repeated that figure in 2011-12.
This season, Chara has a minus-one rating.
This shocking figure may have its roots in last year's Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins held a 2-1 lead over the Chicago Blackhawks and were in a position to take a commanding 3-1 lead since the fourth game was played in Boston.
However, Chicago's Jonathan Toews decided to try to attack Chara rather than avoid him, and that may have been the key to the Blackhawks stopping the Bruins' momentum and winning the series.
After going plus-one in the first three games of the series, Chara was minus-six in the last three games of the series.
Chara is known for keeping himself in superior condition, so even though he's 36 years old, he should have enough left in the tank to maintain his high performance level.
However, he may have slowed by a half-step and that could be the cause of his poor playoff finish and early-season downturn.