|When he wasn't helping clear the front of Nashville's crease last Saturday, Predators defenseman Shea Weber (6) was busy scoring his first hat trick of his career. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings) |
DETROIT – How rare was Shea Weber’s hat trick last Saturday at Joe Louis Arena?
Nashville’s captain is the 37th defenseman – and the first in Predators’ history – to score three goals in a NHL game in the past 28 years. He’s also the first blue liner to victimize the Red Wings since the Kings’ Dominic Lavoie did so in Los Angeles on Oct. 9, 1993.
Since the 1987-88, Mathieu Schneider, Al MacInnis, Lubomir Visnovsky, Steve Duchesne, Sandis Ozolinsh and Kevin Hatcher are the only NHL defensemen to record more than one hat trick in their careers. Schneider’s two three-goal games came during his time with the the Red Wings.
“As hard as it is every night there are so many great players in this league there’s always an opportunity to do something special,” Richards said. “It’s not surprising a guy that can shoot the puck that hard can score. It’s a weird league now. There’s good goal scorers that go a long time and then get four or five in two games. That’s why with the law of averages you just keep shooting the pucks, getting chances and you hope at the end of the day it just kind of regulates.”
Weber is the first NHL defenseman to score three goals in a game since his former teammate Ryan Suter scored three goals in Minnesota’s 5-3 win over Washington on Jan. 4, 2014.
All three of Weber’s goals came on the power play Saturday, including two in the second period as Nashville built a 3-2 lead. His third PPG gave the Predators a 4-2 edge at 8:03 of the third period.
On Monday, Weber, who is tied for second in the league in power-play goals (8), was named the NHL’s second star of the week.
“That shot he has, I’m surprised he hasn’t scored more,” Richards said of Weber. “Teams are probably doing a better job of not letting him shoot. If you’re letting him shoot pucks they’re probably going to go in because he has a missile.”
Niklas Kronwall knows how difficult it is for a defenseman to score three goals in a game. He’s registered three multi-goal games in his career, but he doesn’t have a hat trick on his resume.
“It’s very rare and it’s pretty impressive,” he said. “It’s extremely hard and very few guys have done it.”
The Red Wings will face Weber the day after Christmas, and former Kronwall, he thinks the game plan for the Predators’ defenseman might be different.
“I’m sure we might try to play it a little bit differently,” Kronwall said. “But no other difference than when you’re playing (Washington’s Alex Ovechkin) maybe a little different than the first night when he had 15 or whatever shots on the first night. So I’m sure we’ll chance up a few things but that’s something we’ll talk about more when we get closer.”
Nicklas Lidstrom is the last Wings defenseman to score a hat trick, which happened to be the hall of famer’s only three-goal game.
Since Lidstrom’s accomplishment – in Detroit’s 5-2 win over St. Louis on Dec. 15, 2010 – only five NHL defensemen have matched the feat, including Visnovsky, Zdeno Chara, and P.K. Subban.