Superstar-in-waiting John Tavares is mired in a horrendous slump. After recording 19 points in his first 21 games, the well has run dry and he recorded only ten points over the next 26 contests.
Teams have seen enough of Tavares and figured out how to play against him. Now the onus is on JT to change the predictable parts of his game and work even harder so that he is more difficult to defend. His ice time has slightly decreased of late, but once he gets back on track, the ice time will return. There is no question that he has the skill to be a star in this league. It’s very interesting that Tavares is on pace for a 50 point rookie season, while super soph Steve Stamkos finished with 46 points in his first campaign.
As Shrek was so fond of saying, “change is good, donkey”. Robbie Schremp has to agree with the amiable ogre. He (Schremp, not Shrek) has nine points in his last eight games with three of those points coming via the man advantage. Schremp is averaging over 14 minutes of ice time per game during that stretch.
Schremp is a guy who absolutely dominated his final year of major junior hockey; recording 57 goals and 145 points in only 57 games (Patrick Kane had 145 points in 58 games). Now I don’t normally look to plus/minus as an indicator of a players defensive prowess, but to be only plus-17 when you score 145 points is just plain scary. He finished with 384 points in 247 OHL games.
In his first year of professional hockey, Schremp had 53 points in 69 AHL games. He followed that with 76 points in 78 AHL games and then he regressed last year with a disappointing 42 points in 69 games, again in the AHL. The worst part though was the minus-26. He has shown that he can provide insane highlight reel goals, but can he translate that into playing time and points in the NHL on a full-time basis? The jury is still out, but this 23-year-old has huge offensive potential and it appears that he is being given a fair chance to show what he can do at the major league level on Long Island.
Over the last seven days (not including last nights games), only Alexandre Burrows has scored more points than Josh Bailey. Burrows had nine points, while Bailey was tied with the Sedin twins, Guillaume Latendresse and Steve Stamkos, who all had eight points. Bailey is on a seven game 12 point streak. Prior to that, he had two points in the previous 14 games.
Kyle Okposo is on a streak of four straight games with a goal and has 17 points in his last 20 games. Not counting a dreadful November, where he recorded a meagre four points in 13 games, Okposo has scored at a 67 point pace. His overall numbers say he is on pace for 54 points, but he’ll continue to score at a 65 point pace or better the rest of the way.
The more I watch Tobias Enstrom play, the more I am convinced that he is a legitimate 60 point defenseman in the NHL. He simply makes great decisions on when to jump up into the play. He is currently on pace for 65 points and unless the Thrashers do something crazy like trade Kovalchuk, Enstrom will enjoy his first 60 point season.
Man, the Ottawa Senators have really been hammered hard by injuries this year. Sure that’s no excuse, but with key guys such as Spezza, Alfredsson, Kuba and Michalek all currently out of the line-up, offense has been hard to come by. Excluding the opening month, the Sens have recorded two goals or less in 19 of 35 games and have scored only five goals in their last five matches (not surprisingly all losses). Their power play ranks dead last in the league, while they sit 20th overall in goal scoring.
The Senators are tied with the Islanders and Canadiens for the final playoff spot in the Leastern Conference. The Isles are 7-2-1 over their last ten games, while Montreal is 6-3-1 and Ottawa is 4-6-0. The Senators will miss the playoffs for the second season in a row.
Prior to last night’s 5-4 overtime loss, Tomas Vokoun had a stellar 1.52 goals-against-average and equally impressive 0.957 save percentage in the first four games of January. In last night’s game, Vokoun was very good early on, but you can hold off the Capitals for only so long.
The overtime period was exciting, especially when Nathan Horton was sprung on a breakaway only to have his stick break when he went to take the shot (don’t get me started on those one piece composite twigs). The puck ended up back down in the Panthers end and then another quick stretch pass sent Michael Frolik in all alone, but Jose Theodore came up large. In the shootout, Vokoun stopped Backstrom, Semin and Ovechkin, but couldn’t stop Morrison, Laich or Fleischmann on consecutive shots.
Jason Chimera had a nice game for Washington, recording a Gordie Howe hat trick, endearing himself to his new team-mates.
Brandon Bochenski has five points in his last three games for Tampa. It doesn’t hurt that he’s been playing mostly with St. Louis and Stamkos in those games. Still, I just can’t get worked up over a 27-year-old minor league terror (236 points in 214 AHL games), who has never put up more than 24 points (in 41 games in 2006-07) in an NHL season. Bochenski has 60 points in 133 career NHL games spanning parts of five seasons. Don’t look for this hot streak to continue for very long.