Jason Robertson has emerged as a breakout star in an otherwise woe-beset Dallas Stars season. The 21-year-old forward has grown from a second-round pick, with a high scoring upside but questionable skating, into a legitimate Calder Trophy candidate. And the timing is no accident.
The Athletic’s Saad Yousuf has chronicled Robertson’s transformation into the guy they call Robo, which began when he left the Stanley Cup playoffs bubble and turned to former coach Tommy Mannino and personal trainer James Gonzales. After losing 21 pounds and undertaking a training regimen usually reserved for running backs, he emerged as a stronger player with a new and explosive first step:
“For the decade that I’ve known him, this is the year that it was so serious,” Mannino said. “He’s always been committed but this year he took it to another level.”
The hard work is paying off. In 27 games this season, Robertson has 21 points, second-most among NHL rookies to Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov, who has 27 points (in five more games than Robertson). Robertson has earned a place in the Calder Trophy discussion thanks to the incremental improvements.
It really is possible for potentially underrated prospects to improve their skating – but we already knew that thanks to a guy named Jamie Benn. When a player has the natural talent to become a dominant force on his junior-league team, he could develop habits that serve him poorly in the NHL. Mannino thought of that, too:
Mannino said many of workouts were about Robertson’s skating, but a good chunk were dedicated to increasing productivity in the dirty areas, specifically along the boards and in front of the net. Each drill they executed, whether it was shooting from the top of the circle or the boards, ended the same way, with Robertson stopping at the net and then backchecking out to the red line.
“Every training session, multiple reminders of stop at the net with your stick on the ice,” Mannino said. “That’s not rocket science. It doesn’t take a board to draw the Xs and Os up. It takes somebody making the decision that I’m going to stop at the net with my stick on the ice because that’s where the pucks are going to be. That’s the difference-maker when everybody is skilled and everybody is talented.”
There’s much more behind the paywall. [The Athletic DFW]
As it turned out, Robo was the only high point of yesterday’s 4-1 shellacking by the Florida Panthers.
Here’s the latest on Aaron Ekblad, who left the ice on a stretcher during the second period.
Aaron Ekblad is expected to be out "for an extensive time," according to Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, after the defenseman left the ice on a stretcher with an apparent leg injury during a 4-1 win against the Stars.https://t.co/Fofzo4s4QA— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) March 29, 2021
You are here, probably.
I have to say that if you’ve won 11 of your first 31 games and your best strategy to remedy that is “hope that it eventually goes our way,” maybe you aren’t cut out to be a head coach https://t.co/MCSFgtAejE— Ryan Satkowiak (@Ryan_Satkowiak) March 28, 2021
Around The Leagues
- The Detroit Red Wings swept the weekend with their 4-1 Sunday victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, so hey, anything is possible. [Winging It In Motown]
- And the Nashville Predators moved into the wild-card spot with a 3-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks. [On The Forecheck]
The Predators have won six of seven and have leapfrogged the Blue Jackets for fifth place in the Central Division. They are two points behind the Blackhawks.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) March 28, 2021
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League was one of the first to get back on the ice in 2020, but it couldn’t seal a Return To Play plan in time to save 2021.
It was the news nobody wanted to hear: For many 20-year-olds, the premature end to the 2020-21 SJHL season meant an end to their hockey careers. https://t.co/GuM0iy1wZq— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) March 28, 2021
We now go live to a visual representation of the NHL’s “it’s a fair cop, but society is to blame” comeback.
Just in case anyone thought that referees doing "game management" garbage was just an NHL thing, here's the team-by-team penalty differential for the AHL this year found on my Tableau page.— Sean O'Brien (@SeanOBrien81) March 26, 2021
Weird how they all fit neatly on to ONE diagonal line like that. #HockeyTwitter pic.twitter.com/RogOzEjILn
As a college defender, Chris Nelson was “pampered” by staff members who hauled and disinfected the team’s gear. Now he owns a service that does the same for other players.
Our @WDouglasNHL profiles Chris Nelson, a 1988 Devils draft pick who has started a unique hockey equipment storage and cleaning company and worked as a technical adviser on several hockey themed movies.https://t.co/rH17W5WX7O— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) March 29, 2021
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
The #txstars couldn't rally back for a second straight night in Cleveland and fall 5-2 in the final game of the weekend. #TEXvsCLE— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) March 28, 2021
The team returns to @HEBCenter to face the @IAWild on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the first of 4 games in 5 days.https://t.co/uFZG61gcMg
We can all use a little extra Jake Oettinger right now. Enjoy,