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Filip Forsberg is starting another goal scoring tear for the Predators

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It’s starting to become Filip Forsberg‘s time to shine once again.

With his goal on Friday night in the Nashville Predators’ 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues, Forsberg is now on a three-game goal scoring streak and has lit the lamp in six of his past nine games. It now has him back on track after a miserable start to the season that saw him score just two goals in his first 27 games.

That goal drought from arguably their best forward was one of the many issues facing the Predators, a preseason season Stanley Cup contender, as they stumbled out of the gate to a disappointing start.

It was also a repeat of the way he started last season when he had just five goals through his first 28 games.

Goal scorers tend to go through extended slumps over the course of an 82-game season, and in each of the past two years Forsberg has had his worst over the first two months of the season. In both cases it was the result of him shooting at a rate that was far below his normal career average. He rebounded with a huge second half last year, and he seems to be starting on that path again this season.

Some numbers to compare:

  • Through the first 28 games of last season he averaged 2.89 shots per game and only scored on 6 percent of them. He finished the season by seeing a small increase in shot volume (3.1 per game) and converted on more than 16 percent of his shots on his way to a 33-goal season.
  • He is following a similar path this season. Through his first 27 games he was averaging just over 2.6 shots per game but had only on scored on around 4 percent of them, a ridiculously low average that was almost certain to increase as the season went on as he started to get some of the breaks he was not getting over the first two months. Over the past nine-games he has seen his shot volume increase (back up to 3.1 per game) while he is converting on more than 19 percent of those shots.

He still has a ways to go before he gets back to the 30-goal pace we saw from him last season, but this recent surge is a great starting point for him. It is also coming at a perfect time for the Predators as they try to get back into a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The biggest issue we have with players like Forsberg is we still don’t fully appreciate just how difficult it is to score goals in the NHL right now. Even your best players are going to hit a cold streak over the course of an 82-game season where the puck doesn’t go in the net.

Streaky is a word that nobody likes to have associated with them, but the reality is that every player in the league is streaky to a certain degree when it comes to their point production and goal production. We see a top-line player go through a 10-15 game stretch where they only score one or two goals (or sometimes even none) and we panic and try to figure out what is wrong with them. In most cases there really isn’t anything wrong. It is simply a slump, usually driven by a massive drop in shooting percentage, and is only temporary until they their shooting luck starts to change back in their favor. And with players like Forsberg it almost always does change back in their favor.

What separates players like Forsberg from everybody else is their ability to go on these runs like the one he is starting to get on now, as well as the one he had late last season when he scored 14 goals in 14 games. Not every player is capable of that sort of stretch, and when you have a player that can go on one it can help carry a team.

This could be the start of such a stretch for Forsberg.

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.