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.