Colin Wilson would be the first to admit his performance this season has been less than ideal.
A 20-goal scorer in 2014-15, Wilson has just six goals in 62 games on the current campaign. He even found himself as a healthy scratch last Thursday night in Pittsburgh. Goal No. 6 of the season came on Tuesday night in Nashville’s 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena, the first tally of the game.
When the puck came off of Wilson’s stick and into the twine, there was one emotion that never entered Wilson’s mind.
“I wouldn’t say relieved; it’s a little late in the season to be relieved,” Wilson smiled. “But it felt good. I felt good going into the game, and it's nice for that puck to go in. I want to build some confidence going into the playoffs, and it’s a good way to start.”
Wilson had a magnificent postseason one year ago, scoring five goals in six games during Nashville’s Western Conference Quarterfinal loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Wilson isn’t necessarily expecting a stretch like that considering what he’s gone through this season, but he wouldn’t mind a replication of sorts.
“I couldn’t really develop a rhythm this year,” Wilson said after Wednesday’s practice. “I think I was just gripping my stick way too tight this year, so it’s nice for that one to go in and just play my game.
“Going to the net, shooting the puck, not passing up that shot; I think in other games I would’ve maybe turned out to pass or something like that. Getting that shot off and attacking the net is kind of my game, so just getting back to that is important.”
Wilson’s line, along with Mike Fisher and Viktor Arvidsson, was praised by Head Coach Peter Laviolette after Tuesday’s game for their efforts, and the trio could become an important group in the weeks to come. Wilson is certainly hoping that’s the case, and a fresh start in the postseason could be exactly what’s needed for the 26-year-old to produce with the regularity the Preds know he’s capable of.
“You’re going to need scoring from quite a few lines during the playoffs and different guys stepping up, so it’s good we’re developing some chemistry and hopefully getting into a rhythm going into the playoffs,” Wilson said. “This is what you play for. You play to win the Stanley Cup all year, and now that it becomes a little more within reach, it’s just an exciting time. I want to win a Stanley Cup here and help the team in any way I can.”
Dude, Where’s My Car?!
In conjunction with Fan Appreciation Week, two Predators fans, Kathy Oost and Blair Frasier, were brought onto the Bridgestone Arena Ice on Tuesday night with a chance to drive away in a new Lexus IS-200.
Oost and Frasier were instructed to dig through two piles of snow looking for the keys to the car, with the first one to find them being declared the winner of the sparkling sedan. Oost triumphantly held the keys aloft when she found them, but the game turned out to not be over after all.
Fraiser was brought to center ice where she was told she’d get a decent consolation prize. In unforgettable Smashville fashion, it turns out decent doesn’t even begin to describe it.
And you thought two natural hat tricks in three days was impressive.
Filip Forsberg’s between-the-legs goal on Tuesday night still had a few heads shaking the next day in the Predators locker room. Being featured as the No. 1 play of the night on ESPN’s SportsCenter only helped to amp the hubbub, of course.
“I got a few texts this morning when I woke up, and people seem to like it,” Forsberg said with a laugh. “They thought it was a good goal.
“It’s something that really just comes to you whenever you really need it. To be honest, I think that was the best way to get the shot off and get it to the net quickly. It looked pretty good too, I guess.”
What will likely go down as the play of the season may have never happened save for a kick off of Ryan Johansen’s skate and out to the front of the net to Forsberg. Though he won’t get much credit for helping make the play happen, Johansen said he only cares about the up-close view he was given of the incredible shot.
“Amazing is a pretty good word for it,” Johansen said of the goal. “It just impresses me how smooth he was in a game situation to pull that off. It’s nothing but impressive for all of us watching to see it. I’m just happy to have a front row seat, being right beside him.”
Saros Named to AHL All-Rookie Team:
Admirals goalie Juuse Saros, who made his NHL debut earlier this season with the Preds, was selected to the 2015-16 American Hockey League All-Rookie Team. Saros currently holds a 26-7-0 record and four shutouts through 34 appearances with the Admirals this season. Saros ranks third among AHL goaltenders with a 2.18 goals-against average and seventh with a .922 save percentage. The 20-year-old started in net for the Predators against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 28, 2015, at Bridgestone Arena.
Saros, who was honored last week at the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for March, is the fifth Admiral to make the All-Rookie Team since the team joined the league in 2001. He joins Darren Haydar (2002-03), Timofei Shishkanov (2003-04), Cody Franson (2007-08), and Viktor Arvidsson (2014-15).
Notes and Lines:
Defenseman Anthony Bitetto (lower-body) once again participated in practice with the team and skated with Ryan Ellis during drills. Miikka Salomaki (day-to-day) did not practice on Wednesday. Nashville’s lines were as follows:
| ||Forwards || |
|Calle Jarnkrok ||Ryan Johansen ||James Neal |
|Filip Forsberg ||Mike Ribeiro ||Craig Smith |
|Colin Wilson ||Mike Fisher ||Viktor Arvidsson |
|Colton Sissons ||Paul Gaustad ||Cody Bass |
|Austin Watson ||Eric Nystrom || |
| ||Defense || |
|Roman Josi ||Shea Weber |
|Mattias Ekholm ||Petter Granberg |
|Anthony Bitetto ||Ryan Ellis |
|Barret Jackman || |