|Big forward Colin Greening came up just shy of a 20-goal season during his rookie campaign with the Ottawa Senators (Getty Images).
Colin Greening will tell you that yes, he was very much aware of the number.
Even if he doesn't necessarily measure his game that way.
"I really felt like I could have got to 20," said the 6-3, 212-pound forward, a 17-goal man for the Ottawa Senators in his rookie season with the team. "It was too bad (I didn't). I felt like I was a little bit streaky when it came to goals, but I don't consider myself a points person.
"My big motto always (has been) you play the right way, do the right things and good things will happen. That might happen with a goal or an assist. But honest to God, I wish I could have scored 20 goals. It was just one of those things ... maybe next year."
The Newfoundland native actually did hit that plateau a year earlier, but not officially. He split his time in 2010-11 between Ottawa, where he scored six goals in 24 games, and the Binghamton Senators, for whom he lit the lamp 15 times in 59 American Hockey League regular-season games. Add it up and you get 21 goals in 83 games, or one more than a full National Hockey League season.
Greening was Mr. Durability for the Senators this past season, being one of only three players on the team to suit up for all 82 games (veteran forward Nick Foligno and rookie blueliner Jared Cowen were the others). The 26-year-old Greening felt he transitioned well from the minors to the big leagues.
"It was a great experience," he said. "Overall, I was really happy. It was definitely a transition, especially with the schedule. The AHL schedule is definitely a lot different. I was exposed to the NHL schedule a little bit last year, but to actually go through that first full season was great. You've got to get used to that and the grind of the season, but I felt like it was good."
Though Greening was a member of the Binghamton squad that hoisted the Calder Cup as AHL champions a year ago, the seven-game series this spring with the New York Rangers provided an education in itself.
"It's very intense," he said of the NHL playoffs. "And just the media attention, too, was definitely a new experience for me. I hadn't really experienced that much media attention before. When you're playing and there's a bunch of analysts dissecting your game 30 seconds after you're done playing, it's definitely an interesting experience."
The whole year provided a variety of things in that area for Greening, who was one of the Young Stars named to take part in 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend festivities in Ottawa. He wound up as the runner-up to the Rangers' Carl Hagelin in the Bridgestone Fastest Skater event during the Molson Canadian All-Star Skills Competition.
"I was certainly very honoured to be in the all-star (weekend). I couldn't have expected that," said Greening. "To be on a line with (Milan) Michalek and (Jason) Spezza for most of the season was great, and to also spend time playing with Alfie (Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson) ... they're great players. I don't want to say I was surprised by any of it, but there were some interesting sights along the path."