It has been almost a year since Anthony Duclair last scored a goal in the NHL. He has 79 in his career but has yet to register one since joining the Florida Panthers.
Duclair figures he is going to get his first with the Panthers any time now.
It’s not like he hasn’t had the chances.
Duclair is putting up points for the Panthers, yeah. His six points are among the team leaders.
But goals? Those have not been there.
Duclair’s last goal came against the Islanders last March while he was a member of the Ottawa Senators.
The opportunities have been all around him. Just look at the first period of the Tuesday’s game against the Red Wings.
Four chances. All on point.
“Hey, he had some looks,” coach Joel Quenneville said following Florida’s 2-1 win over the Red Wings.
“Stick with it. It’s about winning, get the two points. Priority. It’s a team game, there’s satisfaction as well.”
For the Panthers, they figure it’s going to happen sooner than later.
“I like how he’s playing, like how he’s skating,” Quenneville said on Monday. “That line, they generate a lot for us whether it’s possession-time or chance-time, they’re usually in the positive end of the spectrum.
“He is dangerous off the rush. I told him, keep cutting in like that and they will go in a variety of ways. Keep doing that and you’ll find one around the net. He has been snake-bit but you know he can score.
“Once he gets one, he’ll get a lot more comfortable. But keep doing what you’re doing … stay with it.”
On Tuesday, Duclair had about as good a chance as a player could ask for.
Midway through the first he tried to sneak the puck past goalie Thomas Greiss — not easy to do when he’s playing the Panthers — and the puck seemed to run along the goal line and out.
In the period, Duclair had four shot attempts — but technically, no shots on goal.
For a player who scored seemingly with ease in the first half of last season (21 of his career-high 23 goals with Ottawa came before his first All-Star appearance) one would think confidence is becoming an issue.
But seeing Duclair each night run through the zone with speed and taking shots, one has to imagine that the goal gate is going to open eventually.
And when it does, the Panthers will be richer for it.
Alex Wennberg, for instance, went scoreless in his first eight games with the Panthers before scoring in each of the past two.
Duclair is due. And he’s close.
It is coming.
“It always happens that when you get a goal, you get a little confidence and some poise with the puck,” Patric Hornqvist said Tuesday night.
“You make more right decisions. Wennberg is a good player, made the right decisions but didn’t score. Right now he has the confidence to make the plays under pressure and you see what kind of player he is. He has some big goals for us and now he’s going to get going.”
When it comes to Duclair, he admitted Monday that he probably needs to shoot the puck more.
Although Duclair didn’t not officially get a shot on goal Tuesday, he is still fifth on the team with 26.
Aaron Ekblad, who has taken 27 shots, has three goals; Carter Verhaeghe’s six have come off 18 SOG.
Duclair had six shots on goal in the overtime win in Game 2 against Chicago; 13 in his past four games.
“Our whole line is creating a lot of offense, lot of chances every time we are out there,” Duclair said.
“We have a lot of speed, a lot of skill. We have to use that to our advantage. I have to keep working, stay positive. It’s going to come soon.”
He is a player who is not taking these chances for granted.
One of the reasons why he signed with the Panthers as a free agent in December was because Florida offered him a chance to play with guys like Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau.
It turned out that the Panthers have him with Barkov and Verhaeghe. Through the first 10 games, Verhaeghe is tied with Hornqvist for the team lead with six goals.
Those kind of numbers could belong to Duclair.
Perhaps, in the coming weeks and months, he will get to the top of the team’s scoring list.
“I think I have to shoot more, especially at this point of the season,” he said. “I think I have been looking too much to pass, giving up some Grade A chances. … Hopefully one trickles in the next few days here.”