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Brodeur primed for bounce back season

Thursday, 08.11.2011 / 4:15 PM ET / News
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Brodeur primed for bounce back season
Martin Brodeur among those expected to post better numbers in 2011-12, NHL.com says. GETTY IMAGES
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Disappointing seasons happen to almost everyone. Sometimes they're because of injuries, sometimes they're just bad luck, and other times they are a combination of circumstances.

Here are 10 players who, for a variety of reasons, didn't have their best seasons in 2010-11 but are good candidates to bounce back in the upcoming campaign:

Martin Brodeur, Devils -- The 39-year-old future member of the Hall of Fame enters 2011-12 as the NHL's all-time leader in wins and shutouts -- but he's also coming off the first losing season in his 17-year career. Brodeur's save percentage dropped to .903, his worst since 1995, and he missed significant time with an injury for the second time in three years. He did look sharper in the second half but wants to prove he's still an elite goaltender for a full season.

Marian Gaborik, Rangers ­-- Gaborik dropped from 42 goals in his first season in the Big Apple to 22 -- and even that wasn't as good as it seemed because 10 came in three games against non-playoff teams. Gaborik is healthy after missing 20 games last season, and the Rangers have brought in playmaker Brad Richards to get him the puck. Barring injuries, there's no reason the two-time 42-goal scorer shouldn't have another big year.

Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals -- Part of Alex Ovechkin's drop from superstar to mere mortal can be laid at the skates of Backstrom, his center, who had the worst season of his four-year career while missing five games due to a broken thumb -- the first injury ever to keep him out of the lineup. Backstrom dropped from 33 goals to 18 and from 101 points to a career-low 65 in the first season of a 10-year deal -- a major reason why Washington struggled to score. The Caps in general and Ovechkin in particular need him to play the way he did in his first three NHL seasons.

Scott Gomez, Canadiens -- Gomez is coming off the worst season of his career, a 38-point, minus-15 debacle that left many people in Montreal wondering how much he has left at age 31. It was a huge dropoff for a player who had averaged 66 points (and never had less than 58) in his previous five seasons. Gomez has to prove he's still a top-six forward -- and that he's worth the big-money deal the Canadiens inherited when they acquired him from the Rangers two years ago.

Steve Sullivan, Penguins -- If ever there were a player who could bounce back with a big season at age 37, it's Sullivan, who’s healthy again and going from the offensively-challenged Predators to Pittsburgh -- where he figures to wind up on a line with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Injuries limited Sullivan to 44 games last season, and he finished with just 10 goals and 22 points. If he's healthy, there's no reason he shouldn't have at least 25 goals and 50 points with the Penguins.

Nik Antropov, Jets -- Antropov played in 76 games in both 2009-10 and '10-11, but that's where the similarities between the two seasons end. He had 24 goals and a career-best 67 points for Atlanta in 2009-10, but dropped to just 16 and 41 last season while also plummeting from a plus-13 rating to minus-17. The relocated Jets hope a new home and some offseason moves will help the 31-year-old -- the oldest non-goaltender on the team -- to rediscover his scoring touch.

Duncan Keith, Blackhawks -- Keith's 45-point showing in 2010-11 would have been acceptable for most defensemen, but for the reigning Norris Trophy winner, it was a major comedown. The dropoff in Keith's play from the previous season mirrored the Hawks' plunge from Stanley Cup champs to a team that barely made the playoffs. Keith looked like the best defenseman in hockey only on rare occasions, and the Hawks need him to revert to his '09-10 form if they hope to return to being Cup contenders.

Sergei Gonchar, Senators -- Ottawa laid out big money last summer to bring in Gonchar as a free agent after he had 50 points in 62 games for Pittsburgh, only to see him slump to 7 goals, 27 points and a minus-15 rating in 67 games. The Senators have a major investment in Gonchar and need the 37-year-old to return to the form that generated an average of nearly 60 points in his nine previous full seasons.

Mark Streit, Islanders --
It wasn't that Streit had a bad season in 2010-11 -- he had no season. A shoulder injury on a seemingly harmless play during a preseason scrimmage ended the Swiss defenseman's season before it began. Streit and the Isles both say he's healthy, and with the nucleus of a young team starting to mature, the Islanders need their best defenseman to return to top form if they hope to end a four-year playoff drought.

Niklas Backstrom, Wild --
The NHL's "other" Backstrom didn't have a great year, either. Minnesota's starting goaltender is coming off the first losing season of his career (22-23-8) and missed substantial time with hip injuries. The Wild made several offseason moves to juice up their offense, and they need Backstrom to return to form if they hope to avoid a third straight early summer.

John Kreiser is an NHL.com columnist.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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