Well, the dream run had to end some time, right? Maybe you can picture a perfect season in football, but in hockey, it’s usually nice to just have a perfect couple weeks.
After rushing to an impressive 4-0 season opening run, the Toronto Maple Leafs settled for a “charity point” as John Tavares scored in overtime to help the New York Islanders keep pace with the Pittsburgh Penguins atop the Atlantic Division.
The Islanders only generated 20 shots on goal in this one, but only needed one shot in overtime to win it as Tavares as scored a power-play goal assisted by recently suspended defenseman James Wisniewski and P.A. Parentau. Dwayne Roloson stopped 29 out of 30 shots, only allowing a Phil Kessel tally on the man advantage in this one. Matt Moulson scored the first goal shortly after another power-play expired, with Tavares earning one of the assists.
Tavares and the Isles are tied with the Penguins with eight points to lead the Atlantic, but have played in one less game so are essentially “ahead” of the favored club at this moment. While the Maple Leafs might be a little bit sad about finally getting a loss (they’re now 4-0-1), they still earned a point and are No. 1 in the Northeast Division with nine points in only five games played.
Aho keeps rolling; Leddy splits two ‘Canes before scoring a beauty (video)
After failing to score in the first 15 games of the season, Sebastian Aho has now found the back of the net in back-to-back-to-back-to-back games.
The Finnish forward opened the scoring less than two minutes into tonight’s game against the Isles. As if coming up with the first goal of the game wasn’t enough, Aho also picked up the primary assist on Teuvo Teravainen‘s tally less than two minutes later, and Teravainen’s second of the game in the second period.
He now has nine points in his last three games and two periods, which is pretty remarkable for a guy that couldn’t buy one earlier on this season.
The start was less than ideal for New York, but they managed to salvage the period with an incredible goal.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Roenick has gone head-to-head with some form of wildlife. He also attempted to go after an alligator on a golf course once (top). Clearly, the gator wanted to no part of him.
For years, hockey nerds and/or experts were waiting for Brayden Schenn to make “the leap.” Eventually, people gave up on that, to the point that the 26-year-old’s trade to the St. Louis Blues seemed more like a curious swap than a tide-turner.
Now, sure, Schenn found a solid niche with the Philadelphia Flyers, but it was in more of a specialist role. Many believed that he was dependent upon a plum gig on the team’s lethal power play and would possibly slip in St. Louis.
Considering that 17 of his 25 goals came on the power play last season, it wasn’t that outrageous to wonder if he might be just “a guy” in St. Louis.
As it turns out, he’s bordering on the guy with the Blues, and it’s been a truly wondrous thing to behold. Wondrous and baffling, to be honest.
On Saturday, it seemed like his hot streak would come to an end … until overtime. In what was very much a solo effort, Schenn beguiled the Vancouver Canucks to secure a 4-3 OT win for his Blues.
Nice. Now, it’s true that Schenn wasn’t the overall star of the night for St. Louis, as that probably goes to Paul Stastny, who piled up three assists. Still, Schenn’s third game-winning goal of the season extended his point streak to seven games, and it’s not like he’s just eking out production, either:
Brayden Schenn scored at 2:41 of overtime to extend his point streak to a career-high seven games (5-10—15) and help the @StLouisBlues improve to 15-5-1 (31 points) this season, the best record in the Western Conference. #STLvsVANpic.twitter.com/242R5O4QG5
Wow. Overall, Schenn now has 8 goals and 26 points in 21 games during his debut season with the Blues. He’s on a pace to absolutely smash the best work of his career, which came in previous seasons where he collected 55 and 59 points.
So, naturally, the question is: with about a quarter of the season over, how much of this is real and how much of this is a lucky little mirage?
Under normal circumstances, one would lean toward luck, especially with a guy who’s already 26. That doesn’t sound old, and it’s certainly in a scorer’s prime range, but it also strikes as a bit unexpected.
To some extent, this is luck. Frankly, it’s not realistic to expect Schenn to average 1.25 points per game; consider that Sidney Crosby‘s career mark is 1.30, and you realize it’s wise to dial back expectations for a guy whose previous career-high was .74.
That aside, there are some reasons to believe that Schenn could very well remain a bigger scorer with the Blues than he did with the Flyers. Allow me to break it down.
Whenever you’re trying to do some hockey myth-busting, shooting percentage is a great place to start. If one-third of the pucks a guy sends toward the net beats a goalie, then ‘ol gravity might not be very kind.
According to NHL.com, Schenn has now connected on 14 percent of his shots on goal this season (eight of 57). That might be a little high, but his career average is 12.5.
So, you can deduce that some of Schenn’s numbers are inflated by those two, especially with Schwartz connecting on 22.2 percent of his SOG so far in 2017-18.
And that’s where things could slide quite a bit. If the Blues get some talent back from that wave of summer injuries, perhaps Mike Yeo might move Schenn away from one or both of Tarasenko and Schwartz?
The overall setup definitely gooses Schenn’s numbers, but it’s not just linemates.
He’s getting way more ice time, in general. Schenn is averaging just under 20 minutes per night after logging almost 18 per evening last season, via Hockey Reference. While Schenn enjoyed fairly cushy zone starts before, it’s even more pronounced now; the 26-year-old’s began a career-high 63 percent of his shifts in the attacking zone entering tonight’s game.
So, long story short, you can expect some of this success to subside. The Blues, as a team, are on a roll that is likely cool down.
The more interesting queries revolve around how much the Blues and Schenn might slip from these hot streaks. It should be some, but will the slide be as extreme as some expect? It should be fun to find out.
Chance the Rapper hosted “Saturday Night Live” last night and in skit he played Lazlo Holmes, a New York Knicks reporter for Madison Square Garden network filling in for the usual New York Rangers reporter who’s on paternity leave.
Holmes quickly discovers that the temperature for hockey is a tad different than that of a hoops game, and that some of the names in the sport are pretty tough to say for an outsider, like Brady Skjei, for example.
It’s not quite Tim “Little Hockey” Meadows bemoaning the 1994 NHL lockout, but it was good for some chuckles.
Hopefully next time NBC has a coach mic’d up for a pre-game speech, he lets fly with “let’s do that hockey!”