With the Minnesota Wild sitting at the bottom of the Central Division and battling an overwhelming amount of injuries among their forwards, the 2017-18 season has begun with more concern than wins.
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A bright spot, though, has been the unprecedented source of scoring from Chris Stewart.
Through six games in the 2017-18 campaign, Stewart leads the team in goals with six -- lighting the lamp once in each contest so far.
That makes Stewart the second player in franchise history to rally for six goals through a seasons opening six games.
He joins forward Zach Parise, who accomplished the feat in 2015 with a big assist from a hattrick in the season opener.
Six Wild players have scored five goals in their first six contests, including Bill Muckalt, who recorded eight points in his only eight games with the Wild before a shoulder injury ended his season, and later, career, in 2003.
Minnesota dealt a second-round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Stewart at the trade deadline in 2015, in search of an enforcer rather than a goal scorer. After spending the 2015-16 season with the Anaheim Ducks, Stewart was brought back to the Wild before last season. Coming into this year, hed tallied 16 goals in 112 career games with Minnesota.
But in this young season, Stewart has taken advantage of the extra playing time hes received with the Wilds injuries at forward. He ranks fourth on the team in shots (third among forwards) and sits at the top of the National Hockey League with a shooting percentage that looks like it belongs more on a basketball court than on the pond.
|Chris Stewart, MIN||6||6||14||42.9|
|Valtteri Filppula, PHI||8||4||10||40.0|
|Sonny Milano, CBJ||8||5||14||35.7|
|Derek Dorsett, VAN||8||5||14||35.7|
|Brad Marchand, BOS||7||6||18||33.3|
|Logan Couture, SJS||8||7||22||31.8|
|James Neal, VGK||7||6||19||31.6|
For reference, Stewart finished 15th on the Wild in shots (82) last season in 79 games. Although a top-five finish on the team in shots when the regular season wraps up seems unlikely for Stewart, hes shown he can score when given the volume.
At age 22, in his second NHL season, Stewart led the Colorado Avalanche in shots (212) and found the net 28 times, his first of back-to-back 28-goal campaigns from 2009-11.
Since then, Stewart has eclipsed the 15-goal mark just once -- with 18 for the St. Louis Blues in the shortened NHL-lockout season of 2012-13.
Has he found his knack for scoring again?
Head coach Bruce Boudreau doesnt want to jinx it.