One of the toughest challenges for any NHL rookie is maintaining a high level of consistency against bigger and stronger players on a nightly basis and over an entire season.
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel and Calgary Flames left wing Sam Bennett are discovering it's tough to duplicate the success they each had at the collegiate and junior hockey level, respectively, in the best League in the world. It hasn't discouraged them, but each knows patience and a little persistence will pay off in the end.
It isn't as though Eichel or Bennett are struggling this season. Rather, it's more of an adjustment period.
The American Hockey League schedule traditionally takes a long holiday break that allows its teams to reset before the games pile up in the second half of the season.
Here is a look at some of the AHL's more intriguing storylines heading into 2016 that could continue to shape the playoff picture:
The Texas Stars endured a tumultuous post-holiday return to play. Rookie forward Devin Shore had shoulder surgery and will miss the rest of the season, according to wrongsideoftheredline.com. Shore ranks second in the AHL with 15 goals and has 26 points in 26 games. The Stars also have a change in net. Prospect Jack Campbell, the 11th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, was assigned to Idaho of the ECHL. Maxime Lagace was recalled from Idaho to replace him. Campbell, 23, has played parts of five AHL seasons, but he has a 4.27 goals-against average and .868 save percentage in 12 AHL games this season. He went 3-6-3 with Texas and allowed five or more goals in each of his past five starts. The Stars' 3.53 goals-against per game ranks them 29th in the AHL, though they place second in goals per game at 3.78.
Introducing the new official NHL App, available for iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones and tablets. A host of new features and improved functionality are available across all platforms, including a redesigned league-wide scoreboard, expanded news coverage, searchable video highlights, individual team experiences* and more. The new NHL App on your tablet also introduces new offerings such as 60fps video, Multitasking** and Picture-in-Picture.
*Available only for smartphones
** Available only for suported iPads