FIGURE THIS one out: Brayden Schenn has accumulated nearly 15 percent of his entire season's point total in the last three games. In the penultimate week of a non-playoff season.
Add his recent performance to the list of perplexing items about this Flyers team, up there with the disparaging road record (10-20-11), Steve Mason's win total (17) despite a franchise-record save percentage (.929), and Craig Berube's depth charts.
Schenn, 23, tied for the league lead in scoring last week with six points - three goals and three assists - in the Flyers' three games (2-0-1). For that, he was honored as the NHL's second star of the week.
Flyers leading scorer Jake Voracek received the same honor in December.
Why is Schenn suddenly converting?
"I don't think his game has changed that much, to be honest with you," Berube said Sunday. "I think that I said before that Brayden gets chances every game to score and they're going in now for him.
"He's been on the power play, in the slot area, and I can't tell you how many good shots he's gotten off and opportunities. They haven't gone in."
Believe it or not, Schenn isn't scoring now because of an increase in opportunity with Wayne Simmonds out.
He has been on the first power-play unit all season, averaging the fifth-most power-play minutes per game on the team (3:00). Those power-play minutes are only up to nearly 4:30 over the past three games because of a ton of whistles in the win in Pittsburgh last Wednesday. Four of Schenn's six points have come on the power play.
Schenn's overall minutes in the last week are up only slightly over his season average.
Here's where it gets really interesting. Skating on the right side with Sean Couturier and Matt Read, Schenn has actually been asked to take more of a defensive role of late - and it hasn't affected his offensive output.
This season, few Flyers have begun more shifts in the offensive zone (367) than Schenn. He has 350 neutral-zone starts and 284 defensive-zone starts.
In the last week, Schenn has just six offensive-zone starts, compared to 16 defensive-zone starts.
Schenn has bounced all over Berube's lineup this season, but he's had the benefit of mostly playing with talented offensive players. The natural center has now played all three forward positions. His shooting percentage (11.5 percent) is steady and actually the second-best of his career, so it isn't necessarily about not converting.
If nothing else, Schenn's furious finish clouds the conversation about his future. It may even increase his value. General manager Ron Hextall only said last week he was "not going to start trading young players for 30-year-olds," but that doesn't rule out trading young players for other young players. Is he more a part of the future or part of the problem?
The stats say he's part of the future. If Schenn hits 50 points, which he will with another five in these final three games, he'll be one of just 18 players 23 or younger to do so this season. That isn't nothing.
It just makes you scratch your head.
Part of me cringed yesterday, flipping back to Oct. 8 in the Daily News' archive to take a peek at my (boneheaded) preseason predictions. (Nick Foles was on the back page.)
Remember that time I not only picked the Flyers to make the playoffs but actually win a round to get to the East's final four? Yeah, me neither. I was sold on the way the Flyers finished last season, bamboozled by the "mojo" of all those third-period comebacks, as Craig Berube described it. I was wrong.
Even more foolish was picking the Blue Jackets to win the Metropolitan Division. I couldn't help but get excited about how tough an out Columbus was last year. The Jackets only got better in the offseason, too, thanks to Ron Hextall. They were ravaged by injuries this season and more or less out of it in December, when they went 10-1-1 and couldn't gain more than three points' ground.
Get this: The Blue Jackets are 13-2-1 in their last 16 games. They are the hottest team in hockey. If they win out this week, they'll come within one of tying a franchise record (43) for wins - and still miss the playoffs. The Rangers were the safe play.
I also believed Brayden Schenn would take a big step forward, listing him as the team's leading goal scorer. He will likely finish fifth, behind Michael Raffl. That was smart.
The rest of my Eastern Conference final four isn't so bad: Rangers, Lightning, Canadiens.
Hey, I picked the Blackhawks over the Lightning in the Stanley Cup finals. That means call your guy and find out the odds on the Minnesota Wild.
Goals: Wayne Simmonds (28)
Assists: Jake Voracek (57)
Points: Voracek (79)
Shots: Claude Giroux (271)
Minutes: Mark Streit (1,746:07)
PIM: Zac Rinaldo (102)
Plus/minus: Nick Grossmann (plus-9)
Hits: Rinaldo (204)
Blocks: Nick Schultz (158)
Faceoff wins: Giroux (1,036)
Takeaways: Sean Couturier (40)
Power-play points: Giroux (36)
Game-winning goals: Simmonds (6)
Wins: Steve Mason (17)
Save percentage: Mason (.929)
THE FINAL WEEK
vs. N.Y. Islanders
Tonight, 7 o'clock
The Islanders are sputtering at the exact wrong time, limping toward the playoffs with a 3-5-2 record in their last 10. (The Flyers are 4-2-4, for reference.) A first-round matchup against the Washington Ovechkins is likely, but the Islanders can guarantee home ice with three wins to close out the slate.
Thursday, 7 o'clock
Saturday, 12:30 pm
With an inexcusable Senators overtime loss in Toronto on Sunday night, this weekend's finale won't be nearly as interesting as it could have been. If the Senators beat Pittsburgh tonight, though, it has a chance. A win over the Flyers could put Ottawa in and Pittsburgh out on the season's 186th and final day.