Scott Cullen looks at Claude Giroux coming around, a chance for Aaron Palushaj, injuries to star wingers and playing the shooting percentages on relatively productive, yet low goal-scoring forwards like Jarome Iginla.
The season hasn't started exactly how the Philadelphia Flyers envisioned it, and at least part of their problem has been their top-end offensive production.
Claude Giroux started the year slowly, with seven points in 13 games before putting up six points in the last four games, including a goal and two assists against the Islanders on Monday, when he played with Jakub Voracek and Matt Read.
Some of Giroux's slow start can be attributed to a lack of continuity with linemates. Last year, he played predominantly with Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr. With Jagr gone to Dallas and Hartnell hurt in the third game of the season, Giroux has seen significant time since with wingers Read and Wayne Simmonds, Danny Briere and Tye McGinn, and Briere and Simmonds (line combos via www.leftwinglock.com).
Giroux's relative lack of production comes from a couple reasons that could be related to his lack of linemate continuity.
First, Giroux is averaging 2.47 shots on goal per game, down from 3.14 per game last season. Fewer chances most often leads to fewer goals.
Secondly, Giroux hasn't been terribly luck when it comes to on-ice shooting percentage. According to Behind the Net, Giroux's 5-on-5 on-ice shooting percentage is 5.17% this season, down from 9.41% last year.
There is time for these numbers to bounce back, particularly if Giroux has a pair of wingers with whom he is comfortable. Certainly, for one afternoon game against the Islanders, Voracek and Read looked the part and perhaps they should since they are tied for the Flyers' team lead with 11 even-strength points, five more than Giroux.
Waived by the Montreal Canadiens, 23-year-old RW Aaron Palushaj is earning a look with the Colorado Avalanche, skating on a line with Paul Stastny and David Jones.
After a three-point game Monday against Nashville, Palushaj has four points in four games with the Avs, a nice start after he managed 10 points in 21 AHL games with Hamilton this season (after 35 points in 35 AHL games earned him a call-up to Montreal for limited ice time in 38 games last season).
Getting a chance to produce now might give Palushaj a chance to stick in the lineup once Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog returns to the lineup and, presumably, bumps Palushaj down the depth chart.
While the New York Rangers aren't saying exactly what is keeping RW Rick Nash out of the lineup, the New York Post's Larry Brooks has a theory that it could be a concussion.
Though he only has three goals in 14 games, Nash has been pretty good for the Rangers, with 12 points and 4.1 shots on goal per game (his highest per-game rate since 2007-2008) while playing a career-high 24:24 per game.
For as long as Nash is out, the Blueshirts need to do some line-shuffling. Nash had been skating with Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin, but when Nash sat out Tuesday's loss to Montreal, Marian Gaborik moved into that spot, leaving Ryan Callahan and rookie Chris Kreider to flank Brad Richards on the Rangers' other scoring unit.
For the Rangers to be successful this year, they needed compelementary offence from the likes of Hagelin and Kreider, so that need is more acute now.
For his part, Hagelin has come on strong after a slow start, scoring five goals in the last five games. Kreider, on the other hand, has struggled. He missed time with bone chips in his ankle and has just two points in eight games, but he did play a season-high 14:37 against Montreal.
Canucks RW Jannik Hansen clocked Blackhawks RW Marian Hossa in the back of the head Tuesday night and while there can be some debate about intent and what punishment Hansen may or may not deserve, the result of the play is worse because it involved Hossa, who suffered a serious concussion after headshot by Coyotes LW Raffi Torres in last year's playoffs.
Hossa scored a pair of goals against the Canucks to give him eight goals and 14 points in 16 games this season. Hossa has been skating with Jonathan Toews and rookie Brandon Saad, but the Blackhawks may need to make changes going forward if Hossa is going to be out for any length of time. Viktor Stalberg, Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell could be candidates to get more ice time as a result.
Sharks RW Tim Kennedy has scored goals in back-to-back games, giving him two in three games since getting promoted from AHL Worcester, where the 26-year-old had a point per game in 37 games.
A smallish forward, Kennedy scored 26 points in 78 games as a rookie with Buffalo in 2009-2010, but was then waived after an arbitration award of $1-million and Kennedy has been trying to stick in the NHL ever since, spending time with the Rangers and Panthers organizations before joining the Sharks last season.
With 31 points in 115 career NHL games, Kennedy is no lock to remain in a scoring role with the Sharks, but if the Sharks are looking to shake up their top six, because of a lack of production from Ryane Clowe and Martin Havlat, then Kennedy could get more than a cursory look.
PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES
There is no guarantee that just because a player is getting shots on goal that he will actually score. However, there is more reason to worry about a player turning around a lack of production if they aren't even getting shots.
For a look at some players that have been generating chances, without many red lights to show for it, here's a look (via www.hockey-reference.com) at all forwards that have at least 2.0 shots on goal per game (at least 20 overall), a shooting percentage of 8.0% or lower and three goals or fewer.
They won't all bounce back. Some, like Michael Frolik and Nikolai Kulemin have had trouble putting the puck in the net in recent seasons and who knows what rookies like Drew Shore, Mika Zibanejad or Jakob Silfverberg might do, but there is a reasonable likelihood of a few of these guys improving their finishing rate. After all, Jarome Iginla can't score once every 48 shots all season, can he?
Of those on the list below, the ones getting more than three shots per game with a good scoring pedigree in their past (or high expectations for young scorers) include Iginla, Justin Williams, Patric Hornqvist, Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel, Taylor Hall, Rick Nash, Max Pacioretty, Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Semin and Tyler Seguin -- an list of quality talents that might be obtained at a relative discount in fantasy circles because of their lack of goal production to this point in 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.