Brandon Pirri’s Simple Approach Has Him Flying High

Brandon Pirri’s Simple Approach Has Him Flying High
Chris Wassel

It has been fun to watch the roller coaster of a year that Brandon Pirri has had. When there was the adversity earlier in the season, no one really knew what to expect from the Florida Panthers forward following a trade out of Chicago. What has followed is nothing short of amazing.

There is always a fascination with guys that are not afraid to shoot the puck. Yes, their shot selection will be called into question from time to time but eventually the pucks start to find their way to and then into the net. That is usually when they go on their first notable streaks. There is noticeable, and then there is what Pirri is doing now.

It is obvious from his game that the center has lots to learn and plenty of experience yet to gain. He is still a bit rough around the edges. Some chances he is missing should not be missed, etc. However, that is getting a bit picky. Hey, the guy is still only 23 years old after all. Sometimes we forget that this is Pirri’s first full season in the NHL.


Anatomy Of This Pirri Streak

High volume shooters tend to be streaky, but we are more focused on the here and now as we take a peak at the last few weeks of this season. If you look at the numbers, you realize little was going right for the center and at one point, Pirri was in the midst of a 15-game scoring drought. He had not had a game of four or more shots in that span either. That is not really a surprise as slumping high volume shooters watch their overall shot output suffer.

Then it happened. All it took was one goal right before the All-Star Break to set the wheels in motion. What looked like an innocent enough shot found its way in the net and from there, the rest has been some ride. Keep in mind also, that Pirri has only played 41 games on the year. What has the streak mushroomed into? Funny you should ask…..

So maybe this is a slight exaggeration but “he’s on fire!” Seventeen goals in his last 22 games will get people’s attention. Now, some will always dwell on the negative. They will assert that a center should have a bit of play making ability in him and the forward only has two assists on the season.

Matt Beleskey of the Anaheim Ducks started off the season with 16 goals in 32 games and only had a couple assists as well. Since then, he has struggled a bit but has six goals and seven assists so relax and enjoy the ride.

Streaks and runs can be quite weird and manifest themselves in different ways. In this case, Pirri is firing the pucks with reckless abandon and it is working. Oddly enough, Pirri has stayed right around 15-16 percent as far as shooting percentage.

During this streak, that number has risen to nearly 20% just in March. Beleskey, by comparison, got to the 20-22% level before tailing back off.

Don’t forget that Thomas Vanek. once started off a season with 25 goals and 5 assists before reversing the trend a little. These weird numbers can happen. Vanek shot at nearly 20% during his streak at a full shot per game above his normal numbers.

No one really knows when this is going to end because Pirri has an ability to beat goalies low where most players cannot. If you look, it seems like a majority of his goals go in through or around the five hole. That takes some skill!

The key with Pirri is simply confidence. There is a lot this summer he will need to work on. A little extra upper and lower body strength could not hurt. Note, we said a little. If you bulk up too much, that will alter acceleration and speed potentially.

Passing definitely will need some work, especially in close quarters when it comes to the offensive zone. Pirri’s passing is not all that bad though. It just needs a little tweaking here and there.

Defense is where the forward needs the most work going into the summer. In order to go from playing 15-16 minutes a night to 18-19 minutes a night, Pirri must develop some sort of acumen for playing a little more of a two-way game. It will take some time and might impact the offense at first but in terms of his career, it is for the best. Right now, he is a good one dimensional player because he almost has to be.

With a little work, Brandon Pirri is going to develop maybe into a perennial 30-goal scorer with 50+ point upside in the near future. This certainly is not too shabby given how the season starter for him and Florida.

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Chris Wassel

Never stop learning! That has always been my philosophy in life. It applies to hockey writing so well as new challenges are something to strive for. I have been a fantasy hockey writer way back when it wasn’t quite so cool, covered the Devils for a variety of places and still do, have a small hockey site of my own, and even write about all things NHL, AHL, ECHL, KHL, etc. Usually I am first asked who I don’t write for. For Today’s Slapshot, I will be covering the Atlantic Division.

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