I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been noticing this lately, but has Jason Blake been getting better?
He was scoring some pretty nice goals, getting his own rebounds, and crashing the net (or goalie) in order to score. It all seemed great and looked like he was on a temporary fluke.
Then, last night, Blake scored a hat trick.
That's all the proof I need right now, a hat trick. Honestly, when was the last time a Leaf scored a hat trick?
About five weeks ago, during a "Leafs This Week" show, Tyler Hill named Blake one of his "three stars of the week." I was shocked and we began to argue about Blake.
I was mostly saying that you can't say a player is improving unless the improvement "phase" lasts more than a week. Well, now it has.
Last night, a little bird told me that Ron Wilson had said Blake was well on his way to becoming a 20+ scorer. Some of you might be saying "20+...wow, he's so great (sarcastically)," but if you take a look at his career last season, he only had 15 goals in 82 regular season games. This season, out of 40, he has 13.
If he in fact scores two goals in the next game, he will have tied his goals scored from last season, in only half the time.
His average goals scored per season was 20-30 (excluding his 40-goal season). If you do the math correctly you will see that even considering his 40-goal season his average amount of goals per season is only 24 (rounded).
I did another calculation and found out that Blake should score 26.65 goals by the end of the season. I know it'd be a lot easier to wait until the next game and then just multiply by two, but I'm not predicting how many goals he will have at the end of the season. I know, it sounds like I am, but I'm just giving you those numbers to show you something.
During Blake's second season with the Islanders, he posted an embarrassing eight goals. However, during his third, he piled up 25 goals (similar to the 26 he is predicted to get this season). I don't think we should take his first season with the Isles into account because he only played 30 games with them.
From then on, Blake improved and then arrived at his 40-goal season.
However, I don't think he is like the Jason Blake from NHL '09. He isn't programmed a certain way; he can improve.
If he started the season sloppy, and then improves, it would be wrong to predict his goals, including his sloppy play. That is why I will now calculate how many goals he will have at the end of the season if he continues his great play.
I think he began playing well against the Devils in the Dec. 16 game. That Saturday we began talking about Blake and how he showed improvement that week.
Wait a minute! Wasn't that Devils game the same game in which Blake did his spinarama in the shoot out? Yes, it was.
I could begin talking about that, but I'll get to it another time.
Anyway, he has scored eight goals in 15 games since Dec. 16. If he plays a whole season like that, he'd get 43 goals. How about if he begins playing like that now? 42 games left, so he'd end up getting another 22 goals. With the ones he has right now, they'd add up to 35 goals at the end of the season.
However, I think Blake has actually improved on his "scoring" since the game on Saturday Jan. 3 against the Ottawa Senators. During that game, he picked up his own rebound and scored on a wrap around. Since then, he has scored five goals. That's five goals in six games. With a season like that, he could end up with 68 goals.
If he continues playing like that, he'd end up getting 35 goals from now until the end of the season. That's 48 goals at the end of the season.
I doubt he will get 48 goals by the end of the season, but I expect this five-goals-in-six games habit to happen every now and then throughout the season. His play has improved and he is scoring more frequently.
Perhaps Blake needs a little more time. He started off slow with the Islanders too. We didn't give Andrew Raycroft enough time and look at him now.
Guys, we have a possible 40+ scorer. It's no rumor. He's done it before, so we know he has that 40+ season in him. We shouldn't trade him now and then watch him shine in the future. Even though he's 35, there are teams out there that need a veteran who can score.
His contract is a pretty heavy, but let's give him more time to improve so he can have a great season, and then trade him. Pierre McGuire said it'll take the Leafs three to five years before they can become actual contenders. Blake will only need one to two years. By then, he will get better and will get us something better in return than he would now if we were to trade him.
We have two years to spare. Let's take a risk for once. If he doesn't improve, oh well, his contract will expire anyways. We aren't going to get much for him anyways. Let's keep good ol' Blake...for the time being.