This has been a unique season for Shea Weber, to say the very least.
Before it even had a chance to begin he was the target of the biggest offer sheet in National Hockey League history. Once Nashville had matched Philadelphia, the league locked the players out. And when the lockout finally ended he began playing for the first time without long-time defensive partner Ryan Suter, who had departed to Minnesota for a nearly Weberian sum in the off-season.
Perhaps it was just playing without Suter. Or maybe the confluence of all those factors had something to do with it. Either way, Shea Weber had a terrible start to the season. After eight games he was pointless, the longest such streak of his career. He didn’t earn an assist until his 10th game, his first goal in the 15th, and his first power-play goal until the 26th. It was, to once again say the least, uncharacteristic.
What has happened in the last 20 games has been, essentially, a complete turnaround. Beginning with Nashville’s February 14th win against the Phoenix Coyotes, Weber has posted 18 points. Eight of those have come on the power play, which had fallen to the bottom of the league without his usual contributions. Now, after 33 games, Weber has six goals and 13 assists for a total of 19 points. That’s an average of .58 points per game, which is actually ahead of his .55/game career average. He’s just .05/game off his pace from 2010-11 and .01/game off of 2011-12, the two years when he was runner-up for the Norris Trophy.
Without a superhuman run over the last 15 games he’s unlikely to pop up in talk for the Norris again this season, mostly because of the years defensemen like Kris Letang, Ryan Suter, and P.K. Subban are having elsewhere in the league. But that doesn’t mean anybody should make the mistake of thinking that Shea Weber is having a poor season in Nashville. Things might have been rough in the early going, but he’s back to normal now.