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Predators' Wilson flipped the switch for playoffs

Nashville forward could be key to Western Conference Second Round against San Jose

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators forward Colin Wilson looked like a different player during the Western Conference First Round against the Anaheim Ducks. 

Wilson had six goals and 24 points in 64 regular-season games, and admitted that he didn't have the type of season that he wanted.

But in the first round against the Ducks he had two goals and three assists in seven games, which tied him with defenseman Shea Weber for the Predators lead in points.

Wilson's play could be a determining factor in the Western Conference Second Round against the San Jose Sharks. If he's able to continue to create turnovers that lead to offensive opportunities the other way, Nashville is going to give San Jose problems.

"The game is just so simple when all you're thinking about is winning that one game," Wilson said. "The focus is just on one game, one shift. For me, it's been a good mental state to be in."

Wilson has shown the ability to rise to the occasion during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He had five goals in six games against the Chicago Blackhawks in their 2015 first-round series.

This season, Wilson had a chance to hit the reset button when the playoffs began, and Predators coach Peter Laviolette believes that has paid dividends for him.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm7: Wilson makes slick move to provide lead

"I think we had talked about it being a fresh start for him," Laviolette said. "Any time you end the regular season and start the playoffs, it's a new season. You've got to make your way. If you remember back then, I had said that he was playing well at the end of the season. His line [with Mike Fisher and Viktor Arvidsson] really seemed to start to form some chemistry in a line that we could count on and started to produce some points.

"Even if it hadn't translated maybe the way it did in the playoffs, the chances were there, the zone time was there, the looks were there. In the playoffs here they got on the board. [Wilson] got on the board, which was great. He had a heck of a series for us."

Wilson gives the Predators a lot of options with their forwards when he's playing well. He has been in a top-six role at different points but has spent most of the time this season on the third line.

The Predators arguably iced the most talented, dangerous set of forwards they've ever had heading into the playoffs when Wilson wasn't playing as well as he wanted. Wilson's play in the first round added another highly talented layer to that group. His teammates know how effective he can be when he's on, particularly in front of the net.

"When he gets going, he's unstoppable," Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. "He's so big and so strong. He really showed that in [the first round] and came up big for us."

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