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How David Desharnais scored his goals in 2013 - Part 2 - Analysis

In spite a relatively poor season in comparison to last year, Desharnais still put up a higher goal scoring rate than every before.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

Desharnais had the best goal scoring season of his career, let's break it down.

Goals by situation
Goals Goals on zone plays Goals off the rush Goals on individual efforts
10 6 4 4
Goals by shot type
Wrist Slap Snap One-timer Tip Backhand
4 2 3 0 1 0

What a weird year for David Desharnais from a scoring perspective. He changed his game pretty substantially as compared to last year, where he scored a lot of high skill plays. Those weren't working for him earlier on so Desharnais took a page out of Brian Gionta's book and began hanging back and scoring predatory goals when he was allowed to slip through coverage, pounding home loose pucks.

Desharnais also had a really long cold streak to end the season, with just 3 goals in 31 games, even though he was increasing his shot rate as compared to last year. Desharnais benefited from some nice shooting luck, but I don't think the quality of shots he was taken can be written off, as there's very few goals in this group of 10 that I'd call lucky, though his slap shot goal against the Flyers certainly qualifies.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Desharnais as a player is that he's a versatile shooter who can beat goalies in all sorts of ways, yet rarely shoots. His 5.22 shots per 60 minutes at even strength last season ranked 10th on the team, just ahead of Brandon Prust. It's not like Desharnais is Scott Gomez in the shooting department, he can score and should learn to shoot more often.

How does this season compare to last year?

2011-12 Goals by situation
Goals Goals on zone plays Goals off the rush Goals on individual efforts
16 9 7 5
2011-12 Goals by shot type
Wrist Slap Snap One-timer Tip Backhand
7 0 2 0 5 2

Make no mistake that Desharnais went to the net last season as well, but he went there in a different way. Last season he was always in search of tips, whereas this season he would wait for loose pucks before charging in. It was an effective strategy for him, but getting far fewer shots on the powerplay and less ice time in general led to about the same level of goal scoring as last season overall.

What's interesting about Desharnais is that he was one of the only players to score more often on zone plays last year than off the rush, yet he didn't have a huge split between the two this season when the team's strategy changed entirely, even though his main linemate, Max Pacioretty's splits seemed to flip completely.

It's easy to forget at times that last year was just Desharnais' second full NHL season, especially since he's going to be 27 in September. I really don't think there's any real development left in him or any hidden talent, but he has the hockey sense to recognize weaknesses and adjust accordingly, like he did this season.

A lot of appreciating Desharnais as a player is simply adjusting expectations. I don't believe he has a long future with the Canadiens simply due to having too many small forwards and too many centers, but this is a player that can score 45-50 points in the NHL with limited ice time, and that's not a bad thing to have around.