To learn the secret to Daniel Carr’s four-goal game on Wednesday at Milwaukee, you needed to be at the Chicago Wolves practice on Thursday at Allstate Arena.
Fifteen minutes before practice was scheduled to start, Carr and assistant coach Bob Nardella were the first on the ice – so Carr could work on his shooting. He moved to various spots on the ice while Nardella kept feeding him pucks.
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Carr’s first drill found him setting up just outside the crease — his back to the goal as if jostling with a defenseman — and taking Nardella’s passes and jamming them into the net.
“I score most of my goals within five feet of the net and going to the net,” Carr said. “The first three (Wednesday) were right around the net where the battles are. That’s where I score and I haven’t done as good a job as I need to, so I should probably try to do that more.”
Then Carr smiled, realizing it sounded like he’s never satisfied. That’s not far from the truth for this 27-year-old left wing from Sherwood Park, Alberta.
In his senior year of college, Carr led Union College to the 2014 NCAA championship. In his first year as a pro, he scored the most goals of any rookie as he stacked up 24 for the Hamilton Bulldogs. In his second year as a pro, he scored 6 goals in 23 games for the Montreal Canadiens. In fact, he scored on his first NHL shift on Dec. 5, 2015.
Now he’s in his first season with the Vegas Golden Knights organization and has become a part of the best line in the AHL.
Since Carr, right wing Brooks Macek and center Gage Quinney joined forces for the Wolves home opener on Oct. 13 – Macek took Tomas Hyka’s place on the line when Hyka moved to Vegas after two games — here’s how they’ve fared:
Carr: 8 goals, 9 assists, +16 plus/minus rating
Macek: 12 goals, 7 assists, +19
Quinney: 5 goals, 5 assists, +13
For the season, Carr and Macek share the AHL lead in plus-minus rating (+18). Macek shares the league lead in points (19) and shooting percentage (57.1) while Carr shares the lead in power-play goals (5) and ranks third in points (18). Quinney stands third in plus-minus (+16).
“Quinney is very good at making plays and keeping plays alive,” Carr said. “He’s really good at extending plays and making plays and he’s got a lot of speed. That helps a lot playing with a guy like that, especially up the middle. And we just pass the puck to Macek and he shoots in in the net.”
On Wednesday, though, they reversed that trend. Macek became just the second AHL player in three seasons to rack up five assists – earning the primary assist on three of Carr’s four goals.
“When the puck’s around the net, you’ve got to get there,” Carr said. “And it’s a timing thing, too. A lot of goal-scorers score in bunches and that’s why – because their timing’s on for an extended period of time.”