January 25th, 2012: Max Pacioretty sends the puck to David Desharnais on the right side of the net, and he tries to set up Erik Cole for a backdoor play but can't get it to go. Desharnais sends the puck back up to Tomas Kaberle at the point. Kaberle passes back to Pacioretty, who goes back to Desharnais at the side of the net. Desharnais waits for Brad Stuart to make a foolish move, walks the puck around him and goes roof over Ty Conklin's glove. There were a lot of passes on this play, but when Desharnais received the puck on his last play, he had pretty much zero opportunity to score. He created this goal with his superior hockey sense, which makes it an individual effort on a zone play.
February 2nd, 2012: Pacioretty brings the puck into the Devils zone and takes a shot that's blocked by Andy Greene. Desharnais and Rene Bourque fight for the puck down low, which Desharnais crashing the net and disturbing Martin Brodeur. Bourque comes out from behind the net with the puck and shoots it off of Desharnais and in. This goal was a team effort on a zone play.
February 13th, 2012: Kaberle carries the puck at the top of the right circle in the Hurricanes zone on the powerplay before feeding Pacioretty at the side of the net. Pacioretty sends the puck up high to P.K. Subban who lets loose a hard one-timer that Cam Ward can't control. Desharnais grabs the loose puck and puts it into the net. This goal was a team effort on a zone play.
February 26th, 2012: Cole feeds Desharnais at the side of the net. Recognizing that he has time and space, Desharnais rushes the net and skates across the Panthers crease to deposit the puck past Scott Clemmensen. This goal was an individual effort on a zone play.
February 28th, 2012: Desharnais brings the puck up the ice from the Habs zone and into the Lightning zone. Electing not to pass to Cole, Desharnais drives the middle and uses the cluster of players as a screen to fire a shot past Mathieu Garon. This goal was an individual effort off the rush.
March 1st, 2012: Desharnais recovers the loose puck in the Canadiens zone and skates it out, then passes to Kaberle. Kaberle fumbles the pass but recovers in time to feed Pacioretty and keep the play onside as the Habs cross into the Wild zone. Pacioretty cuts to the middle and releases a backhander that produces a rebound off the pads of Josh Harding, which Desharnais knocks into the net. This goal was a team effort off the rush.
March 12th, 2012: Ryan Miller. Cole finds Subban in the high slot but Subban's stretched shot is blocked. Cole gets the puck again and centers the puck in front to Desharnais, who finds the wide opening behind Miller for the goal. This goal was a team effort on a zone play.
March 14th, 2012: Pacioretty dumps the puck into the Senators zone and beats Filip Kuba to it. Max then sends the puck up to Subban at the point, who shifts his shooting position and lets go of a wrist shot that Desharnais tips in for his last goal of the 2011-12 campaign. This goal was a team effort on a zone play.
Let's break down Desharnais' goal totals.
Goals on zone plays
Goals off the rush
Goals on individual plays
Interestingly enough, it seems like Desharnais is a more individual goalscoring talent than Rene Bourque. Of course one season is a small sample to work with, but that's not a bad notch in Desharnais' belt. 31.25% of Desharnais' goals were individual plays, several of them a direct result of his biggest strength as a hockey player, elite hockey sense.
I'm known as a detractor of Desharnais overall, but this is mostly about the faux label of him as a #1 center in the NHL, not of him as a hockey player. The little guy has talent in spades, and great hands. Personally I wish he would shoot a little more, because he could have more to give in that area, and he likely won't repeat a 16 goal season without increasing his shot rate.
56.25% of his goals came on zone plays, partially due to his penchant for passing off the rush, I'm sure. As many have noted, the name Desharnais comes up quite often in goals by Pacioretty and Cole, both of whom have better shots than Desharnais, so it makes sense for him to pass a lot.
On Monday we'll look at the last player on our list, Lars Eller, and after his two part series, we'll do a full comparison of all 6 goal scorers and see what we've learned.