Early-Season Struggles: Five players who need to snap out of slumps - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Early-Season Struggles: Five players who need to snap out of slumps

P.K. Subban will be happy to start fresh in December after recording just a single point in November. Here are five players who need to snap out of cold streaks.
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The 2019 draft brought new hope to the New Jersey Devils. With the first overall pick, the Devils selected top prospect Jack Hughes. The very next day, the Devils acquired one-time Norris Trophy-winning blueliner P.K. Subban.

But in both cases, things haven't gone according to plan. It took Hughes eight games to score his first goal of the season and he entered the past weekend with just two assists in the past three weeks. He's a rookie, though, so that's understandable. But Subban? The typically stellar two-way defenseman finished November with just one point – a goal scored against the Carolina Hurricanes two days into the month. Subban averaged 19:51 during the 14-game span, putting him fourth among Devils defensemen in what was one of the quietest months of his career.

With a cap hit of $9 million, more is expected from a four-time 50-point defenseman. The hope is this is nothing more than a slow stretch and Subban can find his scoring touch in no time – and maybe help turn things around for the Devils in the process.

Of course, Subban is far from the only notable name who struggled through November. Here are four others who are in need of some good results on the ice sooner rather than later:

Anders Lee, LW (NY Islanders)
Islanders fans were stoked when Lee was locked up long-term to a seven-year deal with a $7-million AAV, but it's been a quiet year for the winger. During the team's 17-game point streak that saw the Islanders climb the standings, Lee had nine points in 17 games, but he mustered only four of those in November and three of the points came in one game. It's not due to a lack of opportunities: only Brock Nelson (52) had more shots during the 17-game span than Lee (40), and 32 of Lee's shots came in the past 10 games. For as good as the Islanders have been, it's surprising to see Lee held off the scoresheet.

Tyler Johnson, LW (Tampa Bay Lightning)
One thing is certain: the Lightning are going to need to make a move to fit everyone under the salary cap next summer, and Johnson's name has been thrown around often in trade rumors. Entering the weekend, he had just one assist in his past 11 games, and that is might be making the decision to move him – if that is what Tampa Bay ultimately decides – a little easier. Johnson started November playing with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, two of the NHL's most dangerous forwards, but lately he's been centering the Lightning's fourth line. Why? A lack of consistency. Johnson's scored nine of his points in the first 12 games of the season. In the past 12 games, including his goal Saturday against the Hurricanes, Johnson has two points.

Dylan Larkin, C (Detroit)
When Larkin started the season with six points in the first four games, it looked as though he would be one of the few bright spots for the Red Wings this season. But the past few weeks have been underwhelming for Larkin, who has recorded one assist in his past eight games before he picked up an assist in Saturday's outing. Anthony Mantha's injury has resulted in a bit of line juggling, and Robby Fabbri has played well for the Red Wings, but not having the main trio together hasn't helped Detroit. Regardless, Larkin still sits third in team scoring with 16 points in 27 games, but this is slump is somewhat uncharacteristic of Larkin, who is coming off of a 73-point effort last season.

Pekka Rinne, G (Nashville)
An 8-4-2 record at this point in the season is respectable. That said, Rinne had a 7-0-2 record in October. In his past six games, Rinne has a record of 1-4-1 with a 5.34 goals-against average and an .806 save percentage. Backup Juuse Saros, meanwhile, won back-to-back starts against the St. Louis Blues over the past week. At 37, Rinne is in the twilight of his career and the Predators have shown a willingness to give Saros a heavier workload. Rinne – and the Predators in general – needs to pick things up soon.

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