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Central Division notebook

Filip Forsberg of Predators looking for scoring touch; Jamie Benn of Stars honored for charitable work

by Dan Rosen @DRosenNHL / NHL.com Senior Writer

Filip Forsberg has one goal this season, and he didn't even see it. Talk about uncharted territory for the Nashville Predators forward.

"It's a young player trying to figure out a little bit of a slump," Predators captain Mike Fisher said. "It can be hard."

Forsberg, 22, is doing everything he can to make sure it's not frustrating too. His positivity might finally be working in his favor.

Forsberg's goal, which he said he didn't see go in the net, came in a 5-0 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, when his one-timer from the left faceoff circle found the net. It arguably was his best game this season. He had five shots on goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating.

"It's just a matter of time," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said.

Video: ANA@NSH: Forsberg scores his first goal of the season

Forsberg was minus-3 with two SOG and five shot attempts in Nashville's 6-2 loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, but it hardly was a bad game. He had several dominant shifts with the puck on his stick deep in the offensive zone, working, cycling and creating. He wasn't at fault for any of the three Toronto goals that led to his minus-3 rating.

Even if Forsberg left the game with a dour feeling because of the loss and not being able to contribute on the score sheet, he shouldn't have left the loss frustrated with his overall game.

He hasn't done that in the past four games, a sign that Laviolette could be right and that a Forsberg hot streak is around the corner.

"He's going to learn a lot from this and just be better for it," Fisher said.

Forsberg's problem early in the season was obvious to Laviolette: He wasn't getting into positions where he could be a dangerous scoring threat. He had 33 goals last season, up from 26 as a rookie in 2014-15, because he consistently was a threat and consistently was in those scoring spots.

"I think that was the biggest thing at the start, I didn't play fast enough to get there," Forsberg said.

Why?

"I don't know," he answered. "Obviously, I would have changed it if I did know."

He thought the time off after playing for Team Sweden in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 and starting the season with the Predators possibly hurt his momentum, but he didn't want to use that as an excuse either.

"It all comes down to work ethic," Forsberg said. "This league is so good right now, so you're literally going to get nothing for free, so you've got to work for everything. That's been the biggest thing, trying to work harder and play faster."

He insists he didn't look at the zero in the goals column next to his name, probably a reason why he was able to stay positive even though he knew it was there.

"It would be different if I felt like I didn't do anything," Forsberg said. "I'm trying to work on the penalty kill, and I take a lot of pride in doing that. From my first day in the League to now, I've changed. At first, I was all offense. Now I try to play a 200-foot game. If I don't score goals, I need to help the team in other areas. That doesn't get as much attention from everyone."

It doesn't, but Forsberg knows why he got a six-year, $36 million contract from the Predators this past summer. It's not for his defense or his play away from the puck.

"Zero goals in however many games isn't good enough, no matter how you play on the PK," he said.

He has one now, and all indications are that more are coming. Maybe he'll see a few of 'em too.

"Sometimes when you're not scoring, it just feels like sometimes you over-try, you overthink stuff, and you can find yourself out of position," Fisher said. "He's relaxed a little more. I think he could feel he was going to score just by some of the chances he was getting and being in the right areas. You knew it was going to come. When he's playing physical and he's hard on pucks and working, he's unbelievable. He's done that of late."

Video: STL@NSH: Fisher lays a huge hit on Schwartz

 

Jamie Benn honored for charitable work

Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn's community involvement with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society was recognized Wednesday, when he was honored with the 2016 Community Excellence Award at the Heart of Dallas Fast Pitch event.

The Heart of Dallas Young Professionals is comprised of young people in the sports and entertainment industries in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Fast Pitch event is aimed to boost contributions to the community.

Benn was awarded $10,000 to donate to the charity of his choice, which is the MS Society.

Prior to the season, Benn received the MS Society's Person on the Move Award for his work with the charitable organization.

"It means a lot to me," Benn said in a phone interview after practice Wednesday. "I got involved with the MS Society a few years ago. I did it because a close family friend of mine is living with MS back home. I thought it was a good way for me to give back to something that means a lot to me. If I can donate to help people out, I'm willing to do that."

The close family friend is Sandy Orr, the wife of Larry Orr, who was influential in his youth hockey career as a kid growing up in North Saanich, British Columbia.

Larry Orr owned the local hockey shop and sharpened skates for Benn and his brother Jordie for years, even when they returned home in recent offseasons. He died from cancer on Sept. 29, 2015. Sandy is living with MS.

"They are close to myself, my brother and my family," Benn said. "We became close with Sandy over the years just growing up and playing hockey. That's the reason why I got into it."

Because of his work with the MS Society, Benn felt impacted by the news last week that Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell has been diagnosed with MS. Former Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding had to retire because of MS.

"It was pretty shocking," Benn said of Bickell's diagnosis. "You just don't think it's going to happen to anybody that you know. It's really unfortunate that it happened to him. It's too bad. I know he can still play, though. I think Josh played with it for a couple years after he was diagnosed. Hopefully, it's not too bad and he's able to continue living a pretty normal life. Sometimes it hits you later in life. You just have to be fortunate for what you have and don't take anything for granted."

 

Stat pack

Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews' 247 faceoff wins lead the NHL. His 407 faceoffs taken also leads the League. Toews has won 60.7 percent of his faceoffs, first among the 16 players who have taken at least 300 and third among those who have taken more than 175. … Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele has 21 points in 18 games. He had nine points in his first 18 games last season. … Jets rookie Patrik Laine has scored 10 of his League-leading 12 goals at home. … Scheifele and Laine have combined to shoot 22.9 percent so far (22 goals on 96 shots). … The Blackhawks (103.8) and Wild (102.9) are fourth and fifth, respectively, in shooting percentage plus save percentage. The Wild's .940 save percentage leads the NHL.

Video: CHI@WPG: Laine chips in Byfuglien's attempt

 

Games to watch

Winnipeg Jets at Philadelphia Flyers (Nov. 17, 7 p.m. ET; CSN-PH, TSN3, NHL.TV) -- Opener of a five-game road trip for the Jets, who are 4-0-1 in their past five games and moved to second place in the division behind the Blackhawks.

Nashville Predators at St. Louis Blues (Nov. 19, 8 p.m. ET; FS-MW, FS-TN; NHL.TV) -- Second meeting of the season between the Predators and Blues. Nashville won 3-1 at Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 10. The Blues are 6-1-2 at home. The Predators are 1-5-2 on the road.

Colorado Avalanche at Columbus Blue Jackets (Nov. 21, 7 p.m. ET; FS-O, ALT, NHL.TV) -- First time Avalanche coach Jared Bednar will face his former organization. Last season, Bednar guided Lake Erie, now known as Cleveland, to the Calder Cup. Cleveland is the Blue Jackets' American Hockey League affiliate. Also the third of a three-game road trip for Colorado, with stops in Dallas and Minnesota before Columbus.

Winnipeg Jets at Minnesota Wild (Nov. 23, 7 p.m. ET; SN360, SNP, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV) -- First time the Jets and Wild will play each other since Minnesota scored four consecutive goals in a span of 26:43 to defeat Winnipeg 4-3 at Xcel Energy Center on Oct. 15.

Chicago Blackhawks at Los Angeles Kings (Nov. 26, 10:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, WGN, NHL.TV) -- Last game of the Blackhawks' annual "Circus Trip," which features seven consecutive road games because United Center hosts the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Chicago lost 4-0 at Winnipeg in the first game of the trip Tuesday.

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