R.J. Umberger (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
R.J. Umberger has been held goalless for more than a full year, but he finally found the back of the next Thursday and he celebrated by raising his arms to the heavens. Before scoring Thursday, Umberger’s last goal came on Jan. 27, 2015.
Since Jan. 28, 2015, Scott Hartnell has the 11th most goals of any player in the NHL with 36. That’s more than Jonathan Toews, Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron, Daniel Sedin and a number of other stars. And it’s definitely more than R.J. Umberger, who the Philadelphia Flyers acquired in exchange for Hartnell in June 2014.
Heading into Thursday’s game, Umberger had a grand total of zero goals since Jan. 28, 2015. That’s right: he was on a goal drought that spanned more than one calendar year. Over that period, he had played the fourth-most games, 50, without finding the back of the net. Making matters worse, though, he was the only forward among players with 50-plus games played to not score since late-January of last season.
Umberger finally had his breakthrough Thursday, though. After 380 days without a goal, Umberger came streaking down the left wing, found some open space, took a great pass from Sam Gagner and rifled the puck past Sabres netminder Robin Lehner:
Umberger’s celebration — and the smiles on the faces of his teammates — say it all. It’s been tough for Umberger since coming back to Philadelphia, but it’s nice to see him finally break through and get on the score sheet.
Before his production started to hit a wall, Umberger was a five-time 20-goal scorer, and he was generally good for at least 15 tallies a season. However, that’s slowed as Umberger has aged and now, at 33, he’s skating third- and fourth-line minutes and chipping in where he can. Injuries have really marred the latter years of Umberger’s career, too.
After this season, Umberger has one year remaining on a five-year, $23-million contract he signed back in September 2011 with the Blue Jackets. With $4.6 million set to come Umberger’s way next season, the Flyers have to be hoping his goal Thursday is a sign of things to come.