It’s never easy to recover from a slow start to the season, especially when you’re a star player.
There’s internal pressure. There’s media pressure. There’s fan pressure and it can be tough on players. But it’s a long season, which leaves plenty of time to get your act together.
Here’s a look at some players who started slow, but have picked up the pace — the best bounce back stories of the 2015-16 season:
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks: We could’ve listed the entire Ducks team on this list realistically – goaltender Frederik Andersen especially – but centre Ryan Getzlaf has been the standout of the bunch. Getzlaf had just one goal on the season as of Dec. 27 for one of the most surprisingly awful starts to the year, but the Ducks captain turned his season around with 21 points over his past 17 games. Getzlaf and the Ducks are surging now.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins: Like Getzlaf, Crosby wasn’t producing near his usual pace to start the 2015-16 campaign, registering a total of five goals and 15 points over his first two months of action. It was especially strange when Crosby didn’t make the all-star team, but the Penguins star has re-captured his form, amassing 19 goals and 40 points since Jan. 11 to bring Pittsburgh back into the playoff race. Crosby leads all NHLers in post-all-star points.
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks: From a scoring standpoint, Joe Thornton wasn’t pulling his weight early in the year. He accumulated only three goals in his first two months of the season and his assist numbers were pedestrian for Thornton’s standards. But that sample size obviously wasn’t reflective of Thornton’s ability. He has improved his point total in every month of the season and was especially good in February with 19 points in 14 games. Thornton has been one of the most consistent players of his generation.
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers: Most of the players listed above had to deal with particularly slow starts in terms of production but McDavid has bounced back from a tougher situation — a lengthy injury absence in his rookie season. After injuring his clavicle in November when he collided hard into the boards with a pair of Philadelphia Flyers, McDavid has exceeded expectations with eight goals and 14 assists since Feb. 2.
Brayden Schenn, Philadelphia Flyers: He wasn’t expected to produce at an elite level entering 2015-16. Still, the Flyers forward underperformed to open the campaign — scoring just nine points throughout all of October and November. But the 24-year-old has really gained steam as the season has progressed, ranking in the top-10 among all scorers (19 points in 18 games) since the all-star break.
Zack Smith, Ottawa Senators: Smith has been one of the better stories for the Senators this season, reaching the 19-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career. But it took him a while to get going. Smith registered a measly 10 points in his first three months of 2015-16 before breaking out with 11 goals since Jan 1. He’s been notably productive of late, scoring points in nine of his past 10 games.