Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Teams and players that need to bounce back in 2011-12

Ilya Kovalchuk's stick...probably about to snap in half.
The 2010-11 NHL season was a dream season for the Boston Bruins, but for 29 other teams, it failed to produce a championship season.  Of course, that happens every year, however, some teams (and players) are due for a big bounce-back season in 2011-12.

Martin Havlat - He hasn't even come close to his 77 points in 2008-09 since he left Chicago, but he leaves the offensively inept Minnesota Wild in favor of the San Jose Sharks.  This assures Havlat that his linemates will accumulate more points than the league's average goaltender.

Jamie Langenbrunner - He saw his point total nearly slice in half from a season prior between the Devils and Stars, and he probably won't rebound this season either.  Luckily, he'll be teammates with Jason Arnott again, and together, they can sing the Blues...

Ottawa Senators - Last year could not have gone much worse for the Sens, but they traded some of their older players away to build draft picks (and to satisfy country music stars).  They also signed Zenon Konopka to center their second line, which is nice, because last year Konopka put up 307......oh wait those are penalty minutes, not points...

Ilya Kovalchuk - Like many Devils, he didn't exactly thrive under John MacLean, but Kovalchuk will look to bounce back from his worst offensive season since 2002.  He's also under a lot of pressure from fans and media, but if he struggles again in 2011-12, he might not be able to get a big contract when his current one is up.

Edmonton Oilers - Edmonton finished last season true to form: last place and another first overall draft pick.  Many people believe that the Oilers will be a much better team, though, which has GM Steve Tambellini wondering if he should cancel the party he planned for late June 2012.

Florida Panthers - Many people think the Panthers went on their free agent spree to put a better team on the ice, when in fact, they signed those people to sit in the stands so it looks like people go to games there.

Scott Gomez - He had his worst season ever (by far) last year in Montreal, and it has people wondering if he'll ever live up to the huge contract he signed with the Rangers in 2007.  Well, since he probably won't, let's hope the hometown fans will be very forgiving of his struggles in Montreal.  They would never, say, throw waffles at him...

Alexander Ovechkin - For the first time in his career, he failed to score at least 40 goals and 90 points last season, proving that even the great Alex Ovechkin can be a victim of defensive hockey.  Even so, he managed to score 19 more points than Sidney Crosby.

Marian Gaborik - Scoring just 22 goals a season ago, he'll be looking for a bounce back season, and he'll have some help.  Having Brad Richards center him should help, until he inevitably has a season-ending injury after he gets checked by Nathan Gerbe.

Teemu Selanne - Last season, he put up just four more points than he did goals during his rookie season with the now-reinstated Winnipeg Jets in 1992-93.  He needs to make his decision about his playing future soon, because Brett Favre is officially retired (for now) and ESPN has no time available for a live special for him.  ESPN reportedly has a poker commitment every night until the hockey season starts.

Winnipeg Jets - Last time they existed, they finished the season with 78 points, and their leading scorer (Keith Tkachuk) has since retired.  Luckily, Dustin Byfuglien added a few extra pounds during the off-season, making him almost big enough to play on the Jets' offensive line.  Oops, wrong sport...

Mike Richards - His leadership was questioned at times last season, but he has a fresh new start as the face of the Kings.  Unfortunately, he wasn't even LA's most desired hockey player with the last name "Richards" during the 2011 off-season.