PROVIDENCE – So far, so good for Zach Senyshyn in his second season with the Providence Bruins.
After going eight games without a goal, Senyshyn broke out with four goals in three games last week, the best stretch of his young pro career. Heading into Wednesday’s game at Utica, he leads the P-Bruins with nine goals and is skating with a lot of confidence at right wing alongside center Cameron Hughes and left wing Peter Cehlarik.
“I feel good with the puck right now and definitely playing with Hughesy and Cehlarik has been awesome, two terrific players. They really help me play well and use my strengths. It’s been nice to string a couple of games together where I’ve been able to help out,’’ Senyshyn said after practice on Tuesday.
After posting a shooting percentage of 10.5 while scoring 12 goals as a rookie, Senyshyn’s shooting percentage to this point this season is 20.5.
“His quality of shot is probably better because he’s getting to the paint, he’s getting inside,’’ said coach Jay Leach.
That fits with the four goals Senyshyn scored last week, which were all from close range.
“I’d definitely like that to be a staple of my game. Using my speed and going to the net is what I do well. Again, when you are playing with Hughes and Cehlarik, they’re going to put pucks there and be able to make plays to get in that area. I’m happy that I’m able to capitalize,’’ Senyshyn said.
There haven’t been many dekes and dangles in his game and that’s not a bad thing.
“He’s (keeping it) simple. He’s skating. He’s got a good stick. He’s starting to break up plays with his stick. He’s become a bit more physical in finishing his checks. Obviously, he’s getting to the paint, which is where he can score, with his speed,’’ said Leach.
“I’m a big kid and I like to use my size,’’ Senyshyn said. “Definitely use it more now that I’m feeling more confident. With my speed I like to be able to get in hard on the forecheck and when I’m able to finish a couple of guys it feels nice, gets some confidence going.’’
Leach noticed an uptick in Senyshyn’s game in practice a couple of weeks ago. It continued into the games that weekend.
“The Charlotte-Bridgeport-Charlotte weekend, I don’t think he had any points, but he played well all three games. Then (last) week, obviously, he was able to cash in,’’ Leach said.
“He is feeling it. Now when I watch him play, he does have an air of ‘I know what I’m doing. I’ve found something.’ I would always kind of get on him, he’d look at me like he wanted me to tell him what to do. I don’t find him doing that as much any more, which is nice. I don’t have to tell him what to do, he’s going to do it himself.’’
Senyshyn, 21, is one of just two players picked in the first round in the 2015 NHL Draft who hasn’t played an NHL game. However, he is making strides and his recent strong play suggests that it’s much too soon to write him off as a prospect.
It remains to be seen if Senyshyn can keep up his current pace. But if he does, he’ll end up with 27 goals. Only 12 players scored that many in the AHL in 2017-18.