Kevin Allen of USA Today delivers up what he considers to be the top ten surprises of the season so far. Here is his third choice:
Patric Hornqvist leading Nashville in scoring with 21 goals: He¢s playing just 15 minutes per game, and no 20-goal scorer is playing fewer minutes than he is. In terms of individual production, he’s probably been the NHL’s biggest surprise
Really? Kevin Allen isn’t shocked with the idea that Henrik Sedin is leading the league in scoring? I’ve been watching the Sedins for years and – perhaps because of that – I’m stunned by the leap forward. I think it is virtually unprecedented. In the beginning, there were doubts. (The Sedins can’t skate! They don’t shoot! Can they manage the puck into the net often enough to be good?) Those doubts dissipated slowly as their skating improved and it became obvious they were developing into very good players, even excellent ones. They established themselves as point a game guys.
Suddenly at age 29, the Sedins have graduated from excellent players to elite. (Either that or Henrik is having a Norm Cash season. Cash was a good, but not great baseball player for years. In 1961, he hit .361, perhaps the single luckiest year any athlete ever had.) Henrik probably will not win the Art Ross Trophy (oh, ye of little faith), but he doesn’t have to win it to qualify as the league’s biggest surprise in terms of individual production. And the fact that it isn’t just Henrik – if Daniel had not been hurt, his breakthrough would be just as remarkable – makes it seem unlikely that we have a fluke year. The improved performance is probably real.
Either way, this isn’t just one of the big surprises to this season. It is the big surprise.