Alexander Wennberg has often been criticized for his affinity for passing over shooting.
But Saturday, the critics were silenced, at least after the 9-minute mark in the third period.
Wennberg, gathering a sequence of two precision passes from Nathan Gerbe and Kevin Stenlund, skated into the Vegas zone and fired a wrist shot from just above the left circle. The shot caught a piece of Golden Knights goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury, but flittered past and into the net for the 3-0 goal.
While the score is great for Wennberg's shooting confidence, it is still only his third goal of the season, the last being scored on October 21st in Toronto. And despite surpassing his goal total from last season, one could say that this season has still been disappointing.
Wennberg has had a few down seasons since his breakout, 59-point campaign in 2016-2017 and 2019-2020 was viewed as a great opportunity to bounce back. With multiple scorers leaving in free agency, Wennberg could help provide some much-needed scoring with an increased role.
And a few games into this season, it looked like Wennberg was poised to return to his higher-scoring ways of a few seasons ago. In the Blue Jackets' first 9 games of 19-20, Wennberg had a stat line of 2-3. While this line may not seem impressive now, bear in mind that this was on a team that really struggled to score the first part of the season.
The Swedish center has struggled to add to the scoresheet since then. In the last 36 games, Wennberg only has 1 goal and 10 assists, a much slower pace than he began at the beginning of the season. The stretch was especially disappointing, given the streak of injuries hitting the team. With so many veteran players out of the lineup, the team would probably have liked to see more out of the 6th-year player.
However, the good news is that recently Wennberg has been contributing much more. In the past 7 games, Wennberg has 5 points (1 goal and 4 assists). While, again, this is nothing spectacular, it might show that Wennberg has found his form again with more scoring to follow.
While Wennberg may never return to the player he was in 2016-2017, he is still a solid defensive center with the skills needed to create scoring. And despite his ups-and-downs, the team has found a way to win in the past 20 games, so perhaps he's found a role for himself.
Regardless, any team would like to see more from their 3rd highest-paid forward. So for the sake of the Blue Jackets' continued success, they'll look to keep Wennberg hot going into the second half of the season as his recent performance suggests that he's on the offensive upswing.
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