Jonathon Blum has a plus-minus rating of minus nine on the season so far. But don't let that fool you. Blum has excelled in a stat that is often overlooked. He's leading the Nashville Predators in blocked shots.
Not only is Blum leading the Predators in blocked shots with 43, he's also tied with Niklas Hjalmarsson for fourth in the NHL in the same category.
For most of his tenure in Nashville, Blum has been paired with Kevin Klein, who is near the top of the league in blocked shots every year.
"I learned from the best last year when I was playing with Klein. He's always in the top five in blocked shots, and I just try to keep pace with him. We're guys that like to get in front of shots and help sacrifice for the team," Blum said.
Blocked shots are one of the most important stats in a hockey game, but are rarely mentioned. The Predators have a great goaltender in Pekka Rinne, but blocking pucks before they reach Rinne makes the Predators that much harder to play against.
"If we can eliminate eight to 10 shots a game by blocking shots, it just helps Pekka out even more," Blum said.
Lots of players around the NHL try to be very technical when it comes to blocking shots. You'll see players drop to one knee and line themselves in front of the puck. Blum doesn't worry about all of that. He just wants to make sure that the puck doesn't get to his net.
"I just throw my body. I don't really go down. Some guys go to one knee and stuff like that, and I just kind of react. I try to get my feet in front of the puck. It's pretty much just desperation," Blum said.
Blocking shots is a necessary part of being a player in the NHL. However, that doesn't make it any easier when guys like Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara are unleashing booming shots at over 100 miles per hour. It's enough to make anyone a little hesitant.
"Obviously you don't want to take it in the face or anything like that. Some of the guys on the power play shoot high, and those are the ones that you try not to get in the way of. Sometimes it happens so quick that you can't even react to it," Blum said.
If Blum continues his trend of being an excellent shot-blocker, and Klein does as he normally does and rises near the top of the league in blocking shots, the Predators will have taken away a lot of chances for the opposition to score.
There are times throughout the course of a season when a blocked shot is the difference between winning and losing a game. Luckily for the Predators, plenty of guys like Blum are willing to make the sacrifice for the team.