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Wilson Showing Up in Regular Season and Playoffs

Forward is Fine With Adding to Lore of "Playoff Colin Wilson" Nickname

by John Glennon @glennonsports / jg1sport@aol.com

As hockey nicknames go, Predators forward Colin Wilson isn't complaining about the one he hears more and more often this time of year: "Playoff Colin Wilson."

"It's not the worst nickname in the world," Wilson said with a smile. "It's not like 'Invisible Wilson' or something like that. I'll take 'Playoff' right now."

If he sounds the slightest bit hesitant about fully embracing the nickname, however, that's understandable.

It originated in the 2015 postseason, when Wilson - coming off his first 20-goal regular season - starred in the first-round playoff series against Chicago, scoring five goals in six games.

But the "Playoff Colin Wilson" references really took off in the 2016 playoffs, for a couple of reasons:

One was the tremendous show he put on in the Preds' two seven-game playoff series, when he led the team with 13 points - five goals and eight assists - in 14 games.

Video: NSH@BUF: Wilson scores PPG on Johansen's nifty pass

The second reason, however, was that his great 2016 postseason had marked a sharp contrast to his not-so-successful regular season. Wilson had totaled only six goals in 64 games, including just one in his last 18 before the playoffs.

"There's no doubt that last year, [the regular season] was a bit of a tough one for me," Wilson said. "I came back from an injury that kept me out for about five games, and I really couldn't find my flow."

All of which is to say that - no matter how good Wilson may be in the upcoming playoffs - the "Playoff Colin Wilson" nickname won't be quite as appropriate this year.

The reason? Wilson is already heating up during the regular season.

Heading into Thursday's game at Washington, Wilson has scored five goals in his last 13 games after totaling seven in his previous 47. His 12 goals overall this season - with 13 games remaining - are already double what he scored in 2015-16.

 "I think he's been playing good since the start of the year," Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of the seventh-overall pick in the 2008 Entry Draft. "He's had - for me - a really consistent year, a really steady year. If the work is there, and if the process is right, then usually it leads to some points and some offense."

It should be noted, too, that Wilson's value isn't always reflected in just goals and assists.

When he's on his game, the 6-foot-1, 221-pound power forward excels in puck possession, a skill that's become more and more valued in the NHL in recent years.

Wilson's Corsi rating - a figure that illustrates a team's puck possession while a player is on the ice - stands at 52.4 percent. That's one of the better ratings among Predators forwards and an indication Nashville is controlling play more often than not when Wilson is on the ice.

"He's very heavy on the puck, and puck possession is big for him," linemate James Neal said of Wilson. "He's heavy down low protecting the puck, and that ultimately helps the line keep possession of the puck and keep it in the offensive zone."

Wilson is understandably excited he's putting together a much better regular season than he did in 2015-16, especially since the Preds are still involved in a heated playoff race.

"I've liked my game this year," Wilson said. "I've been scoring some goals, distributing more offensively and playing better all-round. I think our line has been doing a great job finding each other out there."

Video: NSH@ANA: Wilson controls Neal's pass, buries backhand

Still, it's easy to wonder what extra Wilson might have in store should the Preds reach the postseason for the third consecutive year.

Among his playoff highlights last year: scoring the goal that put the Preds ahead for good in their Game Seven, first-round victory over Anaheim; posting a goal and two assists in the Preds' epic three-overtime victory over San Jose in Game Four of the second round; scoring a game-tying third-period goal in the Preds' Game Six overtime victory against San Jose.

We'll be sure to hear the "Playoff Colin Wilson" nickname resurrected if Wilson registers any such heroics in the coming postseason.

But as far as most observers are concerned, he's getting the job done right now.

"I'll take the nickname," Wilson said, "but I still feel like I'm contributing during the regular season."

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