|5-5 Pts/60||CF%||CF% rel||Sh%||Sv%||PDO||Pen +/- per 60|
While Hornqvist's 22 goals are nothing to shout about for a player who is supposed to be Nashville's most dangerous scoring threat, there are two aspects of his game that also provide value to the team - his possession numbers have always been among the very best on the roster, and he draws penalties from opposing defensemen with regularity, generating power plays for Nashville by maintaining the discipline not to retaliate when he gets cross-checked or receives a face-washing.
As the Nashville Predators season headed into late March, the team's playoff hopes had faded and a big part of the disappointment could be placed on the shoulders of Hornqvist, who was expected to play a leading role in the team's attack. He was on the first season of a lucrative long-term contract and given a permanent "A" on his jersey, recognizing his stature as the team's most dangerous offensive talent up front.
Through March 21st, however, he had 14 goals and 24 assists through 66 games, a 0.57 points per game pace that had many Preds fans wondering if his 30-goal days were forever in the rear-view mirror. He was left off Team Sweden's Olympic team after having participated in 2010, a telling setback considering some of the younger, less-proven players taken ahead of him.
Then, his wife gave birth to a little girl, and subsequently Hornqvist went on a tear, with 8 goals and 7 assists over the final 10 games of the season, leaving him atop the team scoring list among forwards. Unfortunately, that outburst came far too late to salvage Nashville's playoff hopes.
You can't top the birth of a child, or the 10-game stretch that followed it, but I want to highlight this December 12th goal against Dallas:
To me, this goal shows a tactic that Hornqvist doesn't use enough, sagging into the slot and getting open for one-timers rather than focusing primarily on tips & rebounds on the edge of the crease.
The Road Ahead
Hornqvist's place on the team seems to be relatively secure, given his modified no-trade clause, status as an alternate captain and reasonable contract. While his goal-scoring totals were disappointing this season, he remains the most consistently positive forward on the team when it comes to puck possession stats, so at least his contribution to team results goes above and beyond the basic numbers.
One is always left feeling that there's a higher gear that Hornqvist should be able to kick into as a scorer, however, and the big question is whether a new head coach might help him do so.
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