Who's hotter than Adam Henrique right now? Possibly Johan Franzen, but even Franzen's post-Olympic production isn't in a streak. Henrique is with a remarkable nine goals and two assists in the last six games. It's set a new season high for him in goals, pushed him past Jaromir Jagr for the team lead in scoring, and has introduced him to the league's top thirty goal scorers with 23. Henrique has tied the New Jersey Devils team record for consecutive games with a goal. Per Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends blog, the franchise record is eight by Paul Gagne with Colorado. Regardless of whether he hits it, Henrique's torrid run of goals could not have come at a better time. The Devils have needed help scoring goals quite a lot this season. Especially with the porous defense and goaltending as of late, having #14 light the lamp a lot has been important.
I think it's human nature to want to get an understanding of why things happen. I believe it's natural to look at a player's performance and ask "How?," "Why now?," and "What's different?" My gut feeling is that Henrique's shots just have been dropping in. The shots have mostly been very good shots; but a goal scored means the other team had to have faltered. The Devils, try as they might, can't force that. Nine goals and two assists in six games definitely warrants a closer look.
For starters, it is true that Henrique has been a lot more active on offense. Before the Olympic break, Henrique has taken 100 shots. Over 59 games, that's an average of 1.69 shots per game. Over these six games, Henrique has taken twenty shots. That's an average of 3.33 shots per game. Henrique has not had fewer than two during this streak. The man's been getting very good opportunities to shoot and they're going in at an incredible rate of 45%. Shooting more isn't a guarantee for scoring - just ask Michael Ryder - but it definitely helps.
Possession has gone fairly well for him, too. Since the Olympic break ended, Henrique has been positive in 5-on-5 shot attempt differential in five of the last six games according to his gamelog at Extra Skater. He's been good all season at 53.2%; he's at 58.5% over the last six games. His first full game with the Newfoundline has been the lone exception as Henrique was negative in the Carolina game. Henrique was playing plenty with Patrik Elias in the other five games. This only builds further to the notion that People Play Well with Patrik Elias. Curiously, Elias has not been the most common assister for Henrique's nine goals. Elias is tied with Michael Ryder for two helpers for Henrique's goals; Andy Greene and Ryane Clowe are tied with three.
As for the assists, he's only had two but they have at least been good passes. Henrique's backhander to Clowe for a power play goal in the Islanders game was absolutely lovely. Just watch it. The other one was a secondary assist in the San Jose game last Sunday. He went for a wraparound, it didn't work, but he retrieved the puck and passed it up to Jon Merrill. Merrill's shot was re-directed in by Elias. Since that game, Henrique has not had any assists. However, that's more than OK because he's been lighting the lamp itself.
So let's take a closer look at those nine goals. Here's a chart. The "Links" go to video of the goal itself at NHL.com:
|Date||GF||Link||Shot Type||Goal Type||Situation||SC?||GF Description||Fluke?|
|2/27/14||1||Link||One-touch||Deflection||5-on-4||No||Greene takes a shot from the center point. Henrique got a piece of it and it went in.||No|
|2/27/14||2||Link||Forehand||Shot||4-on-5||Yes||Elias takes the puck from Jack Johnson and lobbed it ahead for a streaking Henrique. Henrique gets it, drives in, and finished the play.||No|
|3/1/14||3||Link||One-touch||Rebound||5-on-4||Yes||Clowe feeds Henrique for a short one-timer in the middle. Nabokov stops it, Henrique puts in his own rebound off his knees.||No|
|3/2/14||4||Link||One-touch||One-timer||5-on-5||Yes||Gelinas passes it wide to Bernier, who carries it in. Along the boards, he throws a pass to the middle. Henrique scores off goalie's flank.||No|
|3/4/14||5||Link||Backhand||Rebound||5-on-5||Yes||Henrique wins the puck from the sideboards, gets around Ericsson, takes a shot, jams it past Howard at the left post||No|
|3/7/14||6||Link||Forehand||Rebound||5-on-5||Yes||Henrique flips to the left point for Fayne. Fayne takes a shot, Henrique deflects it through Gustavsson; taps in the loose puck.||No|
|3/7/14||7||Link||Backhand||Shot||5-on-5||Yes||Ryder plays Henrique in. He gets past the defender, beats Gustavsson with a backhander to the far post.||No|
|3/8/14||8||Link||Backhand||Shot||5-on-5||Yes||Henrique knocks the puck away from Komisarek up to Clowe. Clowe gives it back for a one-on-one. Henrique scored shortside.||No|
|3/8/14||9||Link||Forehand||Shot||4-on-5||No||Elias knocks a pass away, Greene collects and passes it up to Elias for a 2-on-2. Elias dropped it back for Henrique, who fired a laser to the corner past a defender & Khudobin||No|
Remarkably, Henrique has not had any really notable flukes. The first goal of this streak was a deflection, which is likely the luckiest one he had so far. The other eight goals have been the result of shots on net. His sixth goal was created partially by a deflection. He did tip the puck through Jonas Gustavsson, only for it to stay in the crease. He tapped that one in. Still, there were no weird bounces off skates or any big blunders by the goalie that led to a goal. Henrique has scored nearly all of these goals off some kind of shot.
Similarly, nearly all of these shots would be counted as a scoring chance (S.C.) as defined as a shot taken from the goal crease out to the top of the circles within the dots. Again, the deflection goal would not count as it was just a touch of the puck and not a shot. Henrique's most recent goal was above the high slot - a fantastically well-placed shot that went past Ryan Murphy and Anton Khudobin. The rest have been in that zone. That's very good as it means not only did Henrique get an opportunity to shoot but he did so in a dangerous part of the ice. On a number of these, Henrique just crashed the net and got rewarded. His third, fourth, fifth, and arguably his sixth were right at the crease. He went up close as he finished two one-on-ones with the goalie: the second and eighth goals. The old adage in hockey is to take it to the net. Henrique has certainly done this.
I will say that's where he had some of his best luck, then it was off some of the up-close shots. The fact they went right to him as well as Henrique putting the puck back in the right spot to get it through. The rebound goal off his knee in the Isles game, his third one, comes to mind. Bernier was fortunate to get the pass by Alex Stalock and Henrique was fortunate that he was in the exact right place at the exact right time. The fifth one had to have been reviewed as Henrique just jammed that one through Jimmy Howard. The sixth one needed to have the deflection get through and then be able to get to the loose puck first - which both happened. This isn't to say that Henrique did nothing on these plays. Just that he got some good fortune. There's always fortune involved in finishing a play, much less shooting at 45% in the last six games.
Lastly, some of the goals he's scored on this streak are simply just impressive to watch. Not that every one has been aesthetically pleasing, but he's had some real beauties. Henrique's second goal was lovely to watch, though the real stand out move on that play was Patrik Elias' brilliant pass. While he jammed the puck in, he was able to do by getting past Jonathan Ericsson with a lovely individual move. He fooled Gustavsson well with a backhander just inside the far post for his seventh goal. His eighth goal was really impressive given he knocked a puck away from Mike Komisarek to start the rush and then blew past him. His shot for his ninth and most recent goal was just about perfectly placed. Not that prettiness counts for anything more on the scoreboard, but it further shows that Henrique hasn't just been putting in trash for treasure.
As the bearer of bad news, this streak won't go on forever. It's hard enough to score a goal in the NHL, it's even harder to do it at least once per multiple games in a row. Henrique's been shooting incredibly well and the shots have been very good shots. Yet, the opportunities aren't likely to last, the goalie isn't always going to be beaten by these good shots, and things just happen. All the same, Henrique's inferno has been fun to watch and important in the team's 4-2-0 run in the last six games. Let's hope his teammates give him support as we hope Henrique can keep the fire burning a little longer.