For the third season in a row (and the second time at Amalie Arena) Corey Perry had to watch his opponent raise the Stanley Cup. That can’t be a great feeling. It also overshadowed a pretty solid season from the 37-year-old forward. The Tampa Bay Lightning took a bit of a flyer on him last year, hoping he could help solidify a lower-half of the line-up that was completely re-imagined. The gamble paid off with a 19 goal, 21 assist season. In 2022-23 the Lightning are bringing the School Bus Line back for one more ride and hoping there are still some goals left in Perry’s stick.
The good news for Lightning fans is that last season wasn’t really an outlier. While the goal total he put up (19) was the first time he put up double digits since 2017-18 (17) a lot of his outlier stats were well within what he has been doing over the last few years. His ice time (13:31 per game) was actually the lowest of his career but he still managed those 19 goals thanks to a 12.4% shooting percentage and the simple fact he shot the puck a lot more. The 8.3 shots per 60 minutes mark was the highest he has posted since 2016-17 (8.9). It’s unlikely he’s just going to stop shooting.
Other than that a lot of the numbers were pretty much in line with the majority of his career. He averaged 1.0 goals per 60 minutes, in four of the previous seasons he averaged 0.8 G/60. Assists were 1.1 per 60, the same number he posted with the Montreal Canadiens in 2020-21. His 5v5 possession stats were a little down as he was at a 50.85% shot attempts for.
The big question mark for 2022-23 will be his health. Perry played in all 82 games last season, a feat only Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn pulled off. This is his age 37 season (he won’t turn 38 until May) and after 17 seasons in the league, playing in every game can’t be taken for granted. Add in the fact that he’s also played 72 postseason games in the last three years, that’s a lot of miles under the chassis.
If the rest of the team can stay healthy, that should help Perry stay on the ice. He bounced all over the line-up last year filling in for injured forwards until he found his groove on the fourth line with Pat Maroon and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Staying on the fourth line, with some power play time would help keep his minutes under control.
Could he threaten 20 goals again? Possibly, after all he hit 19 despite having the worst puck luck in the league over the first month or so of the season. He posted an expected goals for percentage of 59.58% in all situations. His type of offense (setting up in front of the net and being a pest) doesn’t require a lot of speed. So it’s not like he’s going to lose out on scoring opportunities if he’s a step slower this season.
Am I guaranteeing 20 goals? Heck no, but 13-17 goals would be just fine. Especially if the big guns like Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov stay healthy all season. Having a double-digit winger camping out on the fourth line is never a bad player to have.
Lightning / NHL News
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Women’s World Championship Results:
Finland 9, Japan 3
Czechia 6, Germany 3
Sweden 3, Hungary 2 (SO)