You’re probably well aware by now that Aaron Rome has had a pretty impactful return to the Vancouver Canucks’ lineup. It was impossible to miss Sunday night, as the depth defenseman scored a goal for the third time in four games and added two assists for a a single-game career high of three points.
Rome has been the story through four consecutive contests now — he’s a freaking rock star, even among his teammates. Said Kevin Bieksa:
We’re fighting over who gets on the ice with him. Who changes for his partner so you get a couple seconds out there with him just in case. Everything he touches is turning to gold.
So how to explain Aaron Rome’s transformation from depth defenceman into offensive juggernaut? Is it the Wario-esque moustache? Has Rome stumbled onto some sort of Samson-like follicular magic? Will a jealous Keith Ballard eventually be driven to “delilah” him on the team plane?
Or maybe his broken hand healed funny, and the tendons are all tight and whippy now, like Henry Rowengartner in Rookie of the Year?
A lot of people are saying it’s pure, dumb luck, but that can’t be true either, can it? Rome may have five points in four games, but he’d have even more than that had he not been the victim of a sketchy disallowed goal in Los Angeles and an even sketchier game misconduct in Anaheim. For a guy riding a lucky streak, the dude’s been shafted an awful lot.
There is yet another explanation for Aaron Rome’s sudden hot streak: he’s better than we give him credit for.
While it’s safe to say that Rome won’t continue scoring at this pace, don’t expect a Jeff Cowan-like perma-drought once this run begins to cool. Aaron Rome is going to continue to get points this season. Here are three reasons why.
1. Rome is a better offensive player than you think.
You’d be forgiven for assuming otherwise, what with his 2 goals in 131 NHL games prior to this season, not to mention the incredulousness of his teammates when he does score, but Aaron Rome can put the puck in the net. Let’s ignore the bigs for a moment. In 325 AHL games, Rome has collected 131 points — 35 goals and 96 assists. In his first year with the Canucks, Rome played 7 games with the Manitoba Moose — he scored in 6 of them.
Heck, rather than consider this recent 4-game stretch a hot streak, maybe we should consider the 131-game stretch that preceded it a cold streak. Rome’s onboard. “It’s crazy,” he said after last night’s game. “Sometimes it goes in for you and sometimes it doesn’t for a long period of time.”
2. He can play the right side.
“Christian who?”, Kevin Bieksa joked after Sunday night’s game. Juice was talking about the Canucks’ lost offense, now seemingly found in Rome’s Orr-ishlike coming-out party, but he may as well have been talking about Rome’s ability to be the right-handed d-man the Canucks have been missing.
We’ve discussed, in the past, Vancouver’s difficulty in finding guys on their roster able to play the right side. With Christian Ehrhoff gone to Buffalo and Chris Tanev in the AHL, Bieksa and Sami Salo are the only two natural right-side defenseman on the roster at the moment.
But Rome has seamlessly converted, playing alongside Keith Ballard through four games with nary a slip-up. It’s pretty remarkable, actually — when you consider the way that Ballard and Alex Edler struggle on their off-sides, Rome’s offensive outburst these past four games is even more unlikely.
Keep Rome’s success on his off-side in mind going forward. An injury to Bieksa or Salo means Rome could be up in the Canucks’ top four, either alongside Edler or Dan Hamhuis, and, since an injury to at least one of those two is pretty much guaranteed, Rome will be seeing some primo icetime in the future.
In the meantime, his pairing with Keith Ballard is a more offensive-minded third unit than he’s used to. There will be more opportunities for Rome to get points on a pairing that starts breakouts.
3. He’s getting powerplay time.
If you ask the guys that played on that 2nd powerplay unit last season, being a part of it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get points. It simply wasn’t all that effective. However, it’s looked a great deal better this year, especially with the injection of Cody Hodgson, who scored his first home goal of the season Sunday night and was named the game’s first star.
Rome picked up an assist on the goal, and it’s important to take note of this connection. Hodgson is excellent both at finding the point men and at directing shots towards the net himself. If you’re on the ice with him, you’re going to get scoring chances, and Aaron Rome has earned the right to be on the ice with him 5-on-4.
Of course, Hodgson was more interested in chiming in on the tongue-in-cheek Rome love that talking about himself:
You get the puck to Romer and you go to the net. Then you can almost start skating to the bench because you know it’s going in with him.
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