Ten games into the season, Ales Hemsky looked like he was going to finish the season at a point per game pace. Satisfying? Not quite. He may have finished the season with 82 points, but it looked like they were all going to be assists… on the powerplay, no less. However, come game 11, not only did he start scoring goals (notice: plural), but he started showing why critics have been so harsh on him in the past: he has the talent to score not just 82 assists, but 82 goals, but has failed to put it together in a full season.
For his opening act, he dangled through Braydon Coburn and then proceeded to give Martin Biron headspins. The second goal of that game was a sequel of the first. The next 3 games, he continued to score. These goals were not cheap either. A rocket over the shoulder Steve Mason, a one handed poke after a steal by Marc-Andre Fleury, and 1 vs 4 against the Devils defense. Four games, five goals (even some even strength!), and 5 TSN Highlight of the Night candidates. I have watched TSN since a child, and I don’t think any other player in NHL history can make this claim: their first 5 goals of the season were all HON candidates.
Hemsky has given the boost that the Edmonton Oilers needed to endure the season long 7 game road streak that they just completed in New York, where Hemsky provided the shootout winner, and kept the Oilers’ within the top 8 in the competitive Western Conference. Not only this, but has also supplemented the scoring that has been missing from sophomores Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner.
We are now at 15 games into the season. Hemsky has 15 points, with 5 goals - 5 more than I expected him to have. He is on pace for 27 goals. The question remains: can he possibly have 27 HON candidates?