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Top 5 NHLers Who Need to Step Up Their Game

“New Year, new me,” is a phrase many players in the NHL hope rings true for their games in the new year. Here's a look at five players needing a strong second half.
Taylor Hall

By Steven McGoey

“New Year, new me,” is a phrase many players in the NHL hope rings true for their games in the new year.

The early part of the 2021-22 season was full of surprises and disappointments, here are five players that need to step things up in 2022.

Jeff Petry, Defenseman, Montreal Canadiens

The 34-year-old finished 13th in Norris Trophy voting in 2020-21 and helped lead the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup final but has not had an optimal follow-up season in 2021-22.

Trusted to lead the Montreal defense after the loss of Shea Weber, Petry has not delivered the offensive production the Habs are used to. After putting up four straight seasons with at least 40 points, Petry only has two through the Canadiens' first 27 games.

Additionally, his usually solid defensive impact has been subpar, as the Canadiens are being outscored and out-chanced with him on the ice.

With a $6.25 million-dollar AAV contract that carries a modified no-trade clause through 2024-25, the Canadiens have to hope this is simply a down year for the Ann Arbor native during a year where nothing is going right for the team as a whole.

Jack Roslovic, C, Columbus Blue Jackets

After being traded to his hometown Columbus Blue Jackets along with Patrik Laine for Pierre-Luc Dubois in January, Roslovic showed the offensive ability he couldn’t display while buried in the Jets lineup, posting 34 points in 48 games in 2020-21.

This season however Roslovic’s role and ice-time have changed under new head coach Brad Larsen, he has played with a variety of different linemates and is only averaging 12:29 time on ice a game, notching 14 points in 29 games.

The Blue Jackets have been a surprise offensively this season, and if the 24-year-old gets back to last season's pace, they could challenge for a playoff spot.

Kyle Palmieri, RW, New York Islanders

There are multiple Islander players who could appear on this list, but the usually dependable Palmieri has not been productive (11 points in 42 games) in the regular season since coming to Long Island just before the 2020-21 trade deadline.

With only one goal and seven points this season, it was reported that the five-time 20-goal-scorer is not guaranteed a lineup spot when he returns from injury.

A team that relies on scoring by committee, the Islanders need more from the man who they signed to a four-year $20,000,000 dollar deal just before the start of the season.

Taylor Hall, LW, Boston Bruins

Not that Hall is playing poorly, but the Bruins were probably imagining the 2017-18 MVP-winning version or last season’s 14 points in 16 games with the Boston version of Hall coming into this season.

The 30-year-old’s 0.57 points-per-game rate through 28 games is the second-lowest of his career, but it isn't helped by the off-season loss of David Krejci, who he had instant chemistry with, and Jake DeBrusk’s trade demand hanging over the team.

Sitting at 28th in the league in goals, the Bruins need Hall to carry the second line offensively and take some of the load off the top line for the team to remain a contender.

Alexis Lafreniere, LW, New York Rangers

The first overall pick in the 2020 entry draft is going through a sophomore slump with only eight goals and 11 points in 34 games after 21 points in 56 last season.

Still only 20-years-old, Lafreniere has shown an ability to play a physical game and has plenty of time for the offensive skills he displayed in junior to develop at the NHL level. At this point however the Rangers have trouble limiting scoring chances against or creating offense when he is on the ice.

If the Rangers want to stay competitive in the deep Metropolitan Division, they will need Lafreniere to step up and provide some secondary offense.

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