Flyers vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Skinner Scoring Timely Goals Often

Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 3:00 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
X
Share with your Friends


Skinner Scoring Timely Goals Often
In Jeff Skinner\u2019s first 16 games of the 2013-14 season, he scored four goals. In his last seven games, he has scored eight times.
In Jeff Skinner’s first 16 games of the 2013-14 season, he scored four goals. In his last seven games, he has scored eight times.

Michael Smith
Follow on Twitter

And he says he’s not eating any differently.

“Sometimes that’s just the way it goes,” he said, flashing his familiar and infectious grin. “It starts with the line. I think the line has been playing real well. We’ve been clicking, we’ve had some good opportunities and I’ve been fortunate to be on the right end on a few of them. It’s been nice.”

Skinner has skated on the Hurricanes’ first line alongside Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu since the second of the month. Ruutu he’s played with quite a bit since breaking into the league in 2010-11, but Staal is a bit of a newer linemate.

“When [Staal] is going, you can put anyone on his wing, and he’ll make them look good,” Skinner said. “I think we’re a little more solid defensively this time around, and that’s translated into some more offensive zone time. That’s two big bodies that have been skating, and we’ve been getting in on the forecheck.”

“The line has good chemistry. When we put it together, we took a chance. You never know if a line is going to connect or not,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “Eric has really picked his game up, and Ruuts is really bringing his A-game. He’s playing hard, and he’s playing physical. You put those two guys together, and Skins is smart enough to feed off the openings and can find his space.”

Since Dec. 3, the beginning of Skinner’s lethal stretch, the 21-year-old has averaged 4.86 shots on net per game and 7.57 shot attempts (includes shots blocked and missed) per game.

Not coincidentally, in the five games he tallied goals, he averaged 5.4 shots on net per game and 8.2 shot attempts per game.

When you give a pure goal scorer like Skinner those sorts of opportunities, he’s going to capitalize.

“You don’t get those chances unless you’re spending quality time in other teams’ zones,” Skinner said. “We’ve been generating offense.”

In a stretch such as this, Skinner said the puck doesn’t exactly feel any different on his stick in game situations, practice or otherwise. It’s just that the puck is finding the back of the net with regularity.

“Sometimes you shoot the puck and it doesn’t go in, and sometimes no matter where you shoot it from it finds a way in,” he said. “It goes the opposite way sometime, too, where the other team seems to score a goal off a bad bounce. It’s nice to be on this end of it.”

Like in Phoenix on Dec. 14, when Skinner corralled a loose puck off a faceoff and, while falling to the ice, snapped a bullet of a shot past a slow-to-react Mike Smith. That goal proved to be the game-winner.

Or like in Edmonton on Dec. 10, when Skinner launched a turn-around slap shot that picked the far corner. That goal earned the Canes a point in the standings and forced overtime.

“That’s a good example because I just sort of turned and tried to put it on net,” Skinner said. “Manny does a great job making a screen, and it just finds a hole there and goes in. It was a nice one to have go in.”

And it’s not just that he’s scoring goals consistently; it’s that he’s scoring goals when the team needs it most. His two-goal performance in Washington on Dec. 3 included the eventual game-winner. His hat-trick in Nashville two nights later propelled the Canes past the Predators 5-2. His third period goals in Edmonton and Calgary forced overtime, and he notched the game-winning tally in Phoenix.

“They’ve given us some really clutch goals,” Muller said of the first line.

Despite missing 11 games due to an upper-body injury, Skinner leads the team with 12 goals, and he’s scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace with 21 points (12g, 9a) in 23 games.

“He’s a pure goal scorer,” Muller said. “That line has come up with big goals. They’re playing hard, and they’re playing the right way.”

“He’s a great young player, and he can score goals,” said Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford. “He’s doing what he does best.”



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 70 21 28 -12 49
J. Faulk 75 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 74 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 70 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 73 11 20 -12 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 71 8 17 -13 25
J. McClement 75 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 47 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 39 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 6 .904 2.60