We saw a case of “Finally, already?” on Thursday between the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators.
Finally: Ryan Johansen scored his first goal since his scary surgery during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, not to mention signing that big contract. And someone finally scored a goal against Devan Dubnyk, who was riding a three-game shutout streak.
Already: Johansen managed that goal just 49 seconds into Thursday’s game:
In a lot of cases of noteworthy players not scoring goals, the message is not to panic, and that’s true to an extent with Johansen.
The concern with the talented center is that he’s just not shooting much at all. He came into Thursday’s action with just 23 shots on goal through 17 games, not that much more than one per contest. By Hockey Reference’s numbers, he’s gone from almost two-and-a-half SOG per game during his Columbus days (2.30, with those numbers climbing as he established himself) to less than two per night in Nashville (1.94).
Some of that comes from the linemates Johansen plays with, as Filip Forsberg is one of the NHL’s most underrated snipers and Viktor Arvidsson is one heck of a volume shooter. Still, there’s a balance to strike; even the Joe Thorntons of the world should “keep goalies honest” by firing the puck instead of making a play every now and then. In that regard, Johansen reminds a bit of Ryan Getzlaf, as there’s another shooting talent there that you’d ideally like to see him call his own number more often.
Perhaps scoring a goal like this – on a nice play, but from an odd angle – might encourage Johansen to fire a way just a bit more?
For more on Dubnyk’s streak, check out this post.
This game ended up being a high-scoring affair, with the Wild rallying for a 6-4 win. Bruce Boudreau’s feelings: mixed.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.