Brock Nelson got off to a hot start to his 2014-15 NHL season by doing something quite simple: Going to the net, taking what came. Whether banging in rebounds or deflecting Johnny Boychuk shots in off the knee, the solid work, good fortune and early-season power play role led to seven goals and seven assists in his first 13 games.
He's done the same at the 2015 IIHF World Championship as he leads the U.S. team in scoring (six goals, three assists in six games) and is tied for the tournament lead in goals. His two goals (plus an assist) Sunday against Slovenia were typical: There was the nice tuck-in on the doorstep (video above) on a heads-up feed from Mike Reilly, and then the simple rebound of a Justin Faulk shot on the power play (video below):
The game, carried by NBC Sports Network, ended in a 3-1 U.S. win that confirmed relegation for Anze Kopitar's Slovenia. It also pushed USA back to first place in Group B with one preliminary round game to go, against Slovakia on Tuesday.
Why is it working for Nelson? Via IIHF:
"Our line has been working well for quite a few games now," said Nelson. "I don't know what the secret is - it would be nice if we did - but I think we've played well from the get-go to create chances and capitalize on them. When you get a few early goals you build that chemistry."
Despite some slumps and droughts, at age 23 Nelson showed this season that he can contribute in a variety of roles -- and produce when put in position to do so (20 goals, 42 points in 82 games). Coming off his entry level contract, he's a restricted free agent this summer.