We have reached the point in the NHL season in which all 31 teams have played at least half of their games. While it may seem like we have a good sense of how things will play out, one factor that can reshape the playoff races is the fortune of players changing in the final 40-something games.
Which top scorers could fade back to the pack? Which players could heat up and help their teams compete during the home stretch? Which numbers point to future trends? Let’s have a look at a bounce-back or regression candidate for every club.
Bounce-back candidate: Evgeny Kuznetsov
Key stat: 6.9 shooting percentage
While the Capitals’ star center is humming along at around a point-per-game pace, he has even more to give. In the previous three seasons, Kuznetsov has scored on 12.0 percent of shots, and averaged more than 20 goals per season. In 2018-19, he has just seven tallies. With a career-high rate in shots per game, the bounces are bound to go his way soon.
Bounce-back candidate: Derick Brassard
Key stat: 13 points in 34 games
With just 21 points in 48 games since joining the Penguins in a trade last season, it hasn’t been a smooth ride for the former Blue Jacket, Ranger and Senator, but things simply can’t stay this bad for much longer. He’s been playing alongside dynamic scorer Phil Kessel, which could help Brassard’s currently career-low on-ice shooting percentage.