During the first few days of the season, when players don't perform exactly how they were supposed to according to your draft list, the constant message is "Don't panic yet. Give it time.". It's never wise to overreact and make poor decisions based on just a few days worth of results. So, when exactly is it time to panic? How long is enough time to look at a player and realize things just aren't going to work out according to plan? After all, at some point, you may have to considering cutting your losses and trading or dropping a player. At a minimum, the bench may be calling his name. Let's take a look at a number of players who have underperformed up to this point, and what you should, or should not, do about it.
Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT)
3 games, 3 disappointing losses. Meanwhile, Brent Johnson has stepped in to mop up the mess in fine fashion, leading to an early goalie controversy in Pittsburgh.
Time to Panic?: A little… I for one hyped this season as a comeback year for Fleury. So I'm testing my own stomach as I debate what to do with him on my roster. If you have better options, bench him until he bounces back. If you can, pick up Johnson in the interim. Don't drop him.
Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)
The dependable King has started the season on rocky ground, with just 1 win and a lofty 3.95 GAA through 3 games.
Time to Panic?: Not yet. The Rangers won't win a ton of games this season, but you should have known that up front. His personal numbers will improve. I wouldn't do a thing here just yet.
Tuukka Rask (BOS)
Have the tables been turned so quickly? Rask hasn't had much opportunity to prove he was worth the early draft selections, but he's sitting on a 4.01 GAA with just 1 game played.
Time to Panic?: No. Thomas won't give him the job without fight, so you should have been planning on a split situation from the get go. Rask will provide value when he gets back in the crease, which should be soon. Continue to play him.
Martin Brodeur (NJ)
Just 1 win in 6 games and a 3.18 GAA. Are we finally seeing the decline?
Time to Panic?: Just a little. The Devils as a team are probably more of the problem than Brodeur as a goalie. Either way though, owners are paying the price right now. I wouldn't bench him yet. He's still Brodeur.
Semyon Varlamov (WAS)
Poor guy hasn't played a game yet and we're considering writing him off already?
Time to Panic?: If you've followed me from the pre-season you'd know I pretty much wrote him off before the season began. Once healthy, he'll get a fair share of chances to split time, but ultimately, I believe Neuvirth will win the job or the Caps will deal for a better option. If you spent the pick, you'd might as well hold on for a bit and see how it plays out. Sooner or later though, you'll probably give up on him, too.
Zach Parise (NJ)
In the first 6 games, Parise has a whopping 1 goal and 1 assist to show for his efforts. Nowhere near the point-per-game pace most fans expected to him reach.
Time to Panic?: No. Parise is top 10 talent as a forward and he will recover. If you deal him at this point, you'll be selling low. If you drop him, please give me a heads up so I can claim him first. He's still getting top minutes and is averaging close to 5 shots a game. The goals will come soon.
Thomas Vanek (BUF)
Vanek put up blanks for the first 4 games of the season. He finally came around a bit with an assist in each of his last two games, but where are the goals for this 2-time 40 goal stud?
Time to Panic?: Perhaps. Vanek has been inconsistent throughout his career. I expected him to get back to 30 goals this season, but based on his start, that may be unrealistic. His ice time has been decreasing and he's not getting many shots on net. Don't drop him yet, but if the right offer is on the table, you may want to deal.
Ryan Kesler (VAN)
Kesler had a career year last season, which probably caused many to overvalue him going into this year's drafting. He's more of an all-around player than a pure fantasy scorer, so we shouldn't be shocked to see him with just 1 point through 5 games.
Time to Panic?: Almost. His ice time and shots per game are decent at this point. He really needs his linemates to step it up. Don't drop him at this point, but benching him is in order.
Simon Gagne (TB)
Four games. Zero points. -5 on the +/-. That hurts from a guy expected to do big things with the talented centering options he has to work with in Tampa.
Time to Panic?: Not yet. Gagne was a monster in the playoffs last year, perhaps setting the bar for himself too high going into this season. He's too talented to extend the drought for much longer. Don't drop him. In fact, I'd keep him active, as he's the type of player who can get very hot quickly and put up a few goals in one week.
Nik Antropov (ATL)
After a strong season in Atlanta last year, Antropov was expected to start stronger than his 1 assist in 5 games.
Time to Panic?: Probably. Owners are starting to lose patience quickly here, as he's one of the most dropped players on CBS and Yahoo this week. I'd be one of them if I had made the mistake of drafting him. Look for better options.
Jason Pominville (BUF)
0 points in 3 games, followed by a concussion. There's no word on how soon he will return.
Time to Panic?: Tough call, but not yet. Without the concussion, I would have faith he would get back on pace for about 70 points. Until we know his return, I'd hold him on your bench.
Mike Green (WAS) and Drew Daughty (LA)
Both players have just 1 assist through 4 games. Green is nursing an injury.
Time to Panic?: No. Absolutely not. Though, you may want to bench Green until he's healthy.
Sergei Gonchar (OTT)
Gonchar has added just 1 assist through 5 games, with a -1 to boot.
Time to Panic?: Nope. New team, give him time. He's playing 25 to 30 minutes each night, with lots of power play time. When the Sens forwards start to score, he'll pile up the points.
Jay Bouwmeester (CGY)
4 games. No points. -2. Not good for a player who laid an egg last season.
Time to Panic?: Not yet. The Flames are a hurting bunch. While they won't be terribly feared even when they're completely healthy, the scoring will go up eventually. I wouldn't drop him yet, but would consider a good benching.
Ian White (CGY)
4 games. No points (Unless you count the goal that went off his face). -2. Sound familiar?
Time to Panic?: See Bouwmeester.
Kimmo Timonen (PHI)
Through five games, we still haven't seen his name on a scoresheet. He's also in negative +/- territory.
Time to Panic?: Not completely. There is definitely reason to be concerned and if you have better option, consider benching him. I would hang on to him for a few weeks as he's bound to get scoring soon.
Kevin Bieksa (VAN)
Bieksa is running cold, with no points in five games.
Time to Panic?: Yes. He's inconsistent as it is, and with so many other options on the Vancouver defense, his opportunities are not there like they used to be.
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