The premier goal scorers of the NHL once again lead the league as they’ve done familiarly in the past. Steven Stamkos is having a terrific start to the season with 11 goals, and reigning Rocket Richard winner Alex Ovechkin is right behind him with 10.
But, who is above both of them? Is it Sidney Crosby? Phil Kessel? Nope.
St. Louis Blues forward Alexander Steen leads the National Hockey League with 12 goals in 12 games. The same Alexander Steen that tallied a mere 8 goals in 40 games last year. So what’s the secret to his early success?
His intense work ethic, say his teammates.
Fellow linemate T.J. Oshie says that Steen, “Seems to stay level-headed and keeps working hard. He deserves everything he gets.”
Kevin Shattenkirk added that, “He’s someone that I personally have seen working really hard off the ice, in the weight room, and taking care of himself. He’s someone that you can easily follow.”
After being traded from Toronto to St. Louis in the 2008-2009 season, I have seen Steen develop into a phenomenal two-way player. The 29-year-old hasn’t been able to break out offensively in his career, but his determination and will to succeed is paying dividends.
Steen is able to play all three forward positions, which is a rare trait found in today’s NHL. The Winnipeg native and son of former Jet Thomas Steen is also on the team’s powerplay unit, a group that is the best in the league at 26.1%. His strong execution throughout all three zones is Selke-worthy, and the way he carries himself off the ice is exactly how a professional athlete should act.
However, he is crediting others for his accomplishments on the ice.
The line of David Backes, Oshie, and Steen has been dynamic this year, totaling up 43 points in just the 12 games the Blues have played. The Player of the Month for October has been extremely modest and said that they are the ones who are the most responsible for his own spectacular numbers.
“I’m enjoying playing with those two. They work extremely hard. It’s been a pleasure for me to play with those two. Osh’s efforts on the forecheck, Backes’ reads and hits is what is creating all these situations for me.”
His shooting percentage is also at an astonishing 31.6%, significantly higher than Ovechkin’s 13.3% and Stamkos’s 22.4%. While such a high shooting percentage is likely not sustainable over the course of the season, this isn’t to take away what “Alexander the Great” (dubbed by his teammates) and his linemates have accomplished so far this season. Right now he is getting himself into open areas of the ice and has been able to bury chance,s due to the fact that they are getting him the puck at just the right moment.
The goals Steen has scored this year exemplifies the exact type of player he is. He crashes to the front of the net and does a great job of blocking out his defenders and burying rebounds, or converting passes from his linemates. Steen isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas and gets rewarded for it. His wicked wrist shot from the point on the man-advantage has found the back of the net many times as well.
I think that Steen is amongst the most underrated players in the NHL right now, he simply does everything right for a full 60 minutes. He plays shut-down defense against the top offensive units in the league, and creates many turnovers that lead to scoring chances.
Steen is vigorous on the puck, especially behind the goal line. He uses his 6’0” frame to create space along the boards and is able to find his teammates with precision. Expect a monster contract extension for him if he keeps this up as his previous four-year deal expires at the end of this season.
The St. Louis Blues have lacked a prolific goal scorer in quite some time and have possibly found one in Steen. His stats early in the season see him being compared to great goal scorers in Blues history such as Brett Hull and Brian Sutter.
Yet throughout all of this, Steen doesn’t boast about his individual achievements. He continues to remain humble during his red-hot start, longing for the ultimate goal of lifting the Stanley Cup. Sure he isn’t going to score 80+ goals this season, but Alex Steen is putting on a clinic right now and the rest of the league should take notice.
Enjoy the ride Mound City, because who knows when his fantastic run is going to end.
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