Sens hoping Stone can help anchor club’s playoff run
When it matters most, Mark Stone finds a way to elevate his game.
The Ottawa Senators forward seems to thrive later in the season when games become more important and teams start focusing on making their run to the playoffs. Stone scored the winning goal in Thursday night’s 3-2 victory over Dallas and has three goals and two assists since the all-star break.
“The game tightens up a bit and maybe that’s a strength for me,’’ he said. ``Sometimes at the start of the year it’s not my type of game so when they get down to the nitty-gritty I can maybe get a little bit more of it.’’
While the 24-year-old plays well all season, he seems to shine following the all-star game.
Over the past three seasons, he’s averaged 0.68 points per game prior the all-star contest (38 goals, 56 assists in 138 games). But in 68 games after the all-star break, he’s averaging 1.04 points per contest (30 goals, 41 assists).
Stone, for one, was surprised to learn of the increase.
“For three years I’ve tried to be as consistent as possible,’’ he said. “As a younger guy, you try to grow in the league and find ways to improve your game and I’m still looking to do that.
“I want to be relied upon, not only on the ice, but off it, and kind of be someone younger guys can come to.’’
Stone is also adept at stripping the puck, having registered a league-high 70 takeaways.
“It’s anticipation and reading the play,’’ said Stone. “The way the game is going it’s very physical and many players are very unexpecting now.