ETOBICOKE, Ont. – Like a father who knows his child possesses great potential; Mike Babcock has been relentless in pushing Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar to achieve even more this season.
“I might be harder on Tats than anybody on the team just because I think Tats has a chance to be a real player,” Babcock said. “We’re going to hold him to that. We think he should be good every night because he‘s capable of being good every night and every shift.”
Tatar has been fantastic lately, but like most of the team he could benefit from being more consistent. Still, for the second straight game, Tatar produced the game-winning goal Thursday in the Red Wings’ 4-3 comeback victory at Winnipeg. He also provided the winner at Columbus two nights earlier.
“It was good,” Babcock said of Tatar’s two-goal night. “To be honest with you I didn’t think Tats was very good but it was like a lot of us, weren’t very good, and then we got going. … Tats is a competitive kid.”
Tatar now has six goals and 10 points with a plus-3 rating in the last 10 games. His latest point streak is in sharp contrast to the first nine games of the season when he had just one point with a minus-2 rating.
Yet despite his early point drought, Tatar was confident enough in his own ability to get his offensive game back on track.
“I told you guys, I wasn’t worried about it at all,” he said. “You won’t lose it if you can’t find the net once. I’m not afraid I’m not going to score goals. It’s all about confidence, keep shooting the puck. It eventually will find the net.”
Tatar has listened to those around him and he’s shooting more. His average shots have increased by more than a half a shot per game over last season, and his 50 shots on goal through 19 games are only second on the team to Henrik Zetterberg’s 56 shots.
“Earlier in the season I still had chances I just couldn’t for some reason find the net,” Tatar said. “Right now it gives you a boost of confidence after scoring a few goals you feel good about yourself but more importantly the team is winning and everybody is feeling really well right now and everybody is playing really good and we’re feeling good.”
A three-time 20-plus goal scorer in the American Hockey League, Tatar has upped his game this month. But with success comes expectations for improvement, not only bright on by him, but others too.
“He’s one of those guys who loves to score,” forward Johan Franzen said. “He’s a little hard on himself when he doesn’t score but he’s always a great player. He’s strong on the puck and creates a lot of offense but it’s great to see him score. It really makes him better. His confidence grows a lot, it’s good to see.”
Tatar is playing with what seems like a renewed energy and quickness. He’s been aggressive at getting to difficult spots on the ice and that’s creating chances for him and others.
“He’s finding way to get open,” Franzen said. “If it’s back door or in the slot he’s finding a way to get open.”