It took Colin Wilson a little while to get going, at least on the scoresheet anyway. Sure, he would’ve liked to have produced a few more points through the early portions of the season, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Nor was it of great concern to him or the rest of those on or behind the bench.
‘Willy’ as he’s known to his teammates, was still playing the way that was expected of him. But then mid-November came. And so did the goals and assists.
“I’ve felt good throughout the whole season,” Wilson said. “Sometimes you’re not getting any bounces, sometimes you’re getting all the bounces. I think it’s just a matter of the two opposites; at the beginning of the season, I wasn’t getting any. Now, I’m getting a lot more. I’m just trying to stay consistent and work hard every night.”
Whatever Wilson’s been doing lately, it’s working.
Through the first 15 games of the campaign, he posted one goal and three assists. Over his last 24 contests, 11 goals and 22 points have come off the stick of Wilson, including a four-game stretch from Dec. 22 through Dec. 29 that saw him amass four goals and three helpers.
Two of his 12 tallies this season have been game-winners. His plus/minus rating stands at plus-20, good for seventh in the NHL.
Plus, the 25-year-old winger is currently riding a three-game point streak and has accumulated 13 points in his last 10 outings.
For Wilson, it hasn’t been as much about his personal production as it’s been about the team. Perhaps it’s that mindset that’s bringing about the numerical successes.
“I feel like I’m less worried about the points coming,” Wilson said. “Usually, you just don’t worry about the end product, usually you just focus on each game. It’s an old cliché, but it really does work.”
Wilson’s linemate and center Mike Fisher would agree that whatever Wilson’s doing is working. Fisher believes that the recent stretches have been some of the best that he’s ever seen Wilson put together.
“He’s been playing really good hockey,” Fisher said of his teammate. “He’s been playing consistent, and I would say the last good bunch of games, he’s played real solid. He’s been skating well, making good plays, he’s hungry around the net, and it’s been fun playing with him.”
Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette says that it was only a matter of time for Wilson before the points started coming, but the Preds first-year bench boss was impressed by No. 33 long before he started putting the puck in the net with regularity.
“Colin Wilson’s been very strong from the start of the year,” Laviolette said. “He’s generated a lot of offense, he’s played a terrific brand of two-way hockey, both defensively and offensively, and the points are going in, so it brings more recognition.”
The on-ice success that the team as a whole is having has also caused the rest of the League to take notice. Wilson says that while his club may have been an early season shock to many, the ability to surprise their opponents is long gone with the midway point of the campaign’s arrival.
“I think when we started, we were kind of an underdog team,” Wilson said. “We were playing hard as a team, but I think now we have a little bit of a target on our back. [Our opponents] know we’re one of the best teams, so it’s going to be a little different [in the second half of the season].”
The Preds show no signs of slowing, however, and Fisher believes that team successes can lead to those of the individual variety, including his linemate.
“I think he’s been playing with some confidence and sometimes you just need to get a good stretch of games to feel good about it,” Fisher said of Wilson. “Everyone’s been playing well and having some success. He’s always had talent and we knew what he could do. I think he’s really evolved and grown his game and gotten smarter. He’s done a real good job for us.”
Wilson continues to get the job done for the Predators, no matter if he shows up on the final scoresheet or not. And while it wasn’t imperative that he tally a point each and every game, Wilson’s coach certainly doesn’t mind the extra contributions coming right now.
“It brings confidence to a guy too when they start to contribute and chip in,” Laviolette said. “That can build in a positive way too. I’m certainly glad to see it [from Wilson]; we need that offense and it’s a good thing.”
That offense is leading to the team’s continued slotting among the top of the NHL standings. For Wilson and friends, it doesn’t matter how many points Nashville’s opponent carries. It’s all about the guys in their locker room, not on the other side of the ice.
“You can’t worry about your opponent too much and we know if we play our best game, we’re going to win,” Wilson said. “We’ve even found ways when we’re not playing our best to win, so we know it all comes within us. We don’t worry as much about the opponent.”
That mindset seems to be working, too.