A few years ago, Jordin Tootoo
would have dropped his gloves and started punching.
Instead, the Predators forward knew the situation, kept his cool and put his team in position to be successful.
It happened with 8:10 remaining in the third against San Jose on Tuesday. The Sharks were leading 1-0 and Tootoo got under the skin of San Jose’s Ryane Clowe, who threw his gloves to the ice. Tootoo didn’t react, and Clowe was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty.
Moments later, Nashville’s Craig Smith
tied it with a power play goal.
“It was a point in the game when we needed to create some energy and that was the right time,” said Tootoo, who drew another penalty earlier in the third.
This is not a kinder, gentler Tootoo. It’s a smarter, more mature Tootoo. The 28-year-old forward has been playing with a pace and tenacity rarely seen during his professional career, which is saying something considering those have long been strengths to his game. He has perfected the role of agitator and has been one of Nashville’s bright spots since the 2011-12 season began.
“Right now he has good energy,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s as fit as he’s ever been and he’s got good clarity. I think he wants to get on the score sheet a little bit, and he will because he’s playing a solid game.”
Tootoo, who leads Nashville with 19 hits, continues to be an intimidating presence when battles for the puck are involved. Against San Jose, Trotz moved him up to a line with Wilson and Legwand to use that ability as an advantage.
“Not only does he have great speed, but if I know if Jordin Tootoo
is breathing down my neck to retrieve a puck, I’d be a little nervous to go get the puck,” Trotz said. “If you’re getting nervous to go get the puck, then we’re getting the puck.”
Tootoo also has 12 shots on goal, the same amount as Wilson and one more than Legwand. But he has only one assist and no goals in the first eight games of the season. Still, Tootoo is not discouraged.
“When you do the same things over and over, at some point something has got to give,” Tootoo said. “I have to keep bringing my energy and work ethic. Right now, I’m not getting any bounces, but it will come if you just keep the right mindset. If you keep plugging away, good things will happen eventually.”Injury update:
Forward Patric Hornqvist
did not practice with the team on Wednesday. Trotz called it a maintenance day. Hornqvist has been battling a lower-body injury.
“He’ll be fine, Trotz said. “He’s good to go.”
Forward Martin Erat
(upper body) practiced with the team on Wednesday.
“He’s getting real close,” Trotz said. “I don’t know exactly if he will be in tomorrow. We’re hoping he comes back in one of these couple of games here.”