With points in 4 of his last 5 games, Sens rookie Rudolfs Balcers is starting to turn some heads in the NHL and on Tuesday morning the 21-year-old Latvian received an unexpected message of support from a fellow countryman.
"Yessir!," tweeted Dallas Maverick's power forward Kristaps Porzingis in the early hours of Tuesday morning. "The joy of the Liepāja @rudolfsbalcers!! Keep it up!"
The post was in response to Balcers scoring last night against the Blackhawks, which gives the rookie goals in consecutive games for the first time in the NHL, and he admitted it was a "very cool surprise" to see the message on social media
While they've never met in person, the pair both hail from the small city of Liepāja on Latvia's west coast. Their hometown only has a population of about 70,000 people but for both Balcers and Prozingis, who was selected 4th overall in 2015 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks, they were each able to make the trip to North America to play their sport professionally.
Balcers has appeared in 16 games with the Senators this season so far and with his recent contributions on offence he has been adjusting well to the size and speed of the NHL game.
"Since I got called up, I've found that I can play a little bit more of that 'hard game'," said Balcers about his transition. "So when I went back to Belleville and played two games there during the All-Star Break, I tried to do the same things I was doing in the NHL: be first on the puck, forecheck hard and not pass up any shooting opportunities."
It's Balcers' ability to adapt to his role that has resulted in some nice chemistry between himself and centre Chris Tierney and the duo have thrived in February combining for 11 points over the Senators' past 6 games.
"I feel better and better every game," shared Balcers. "I think that Tierney and I are playing pretty good lately and now Mikkel Boedker is back so we're excited to play with him again."
Video: OTT@CHI: Balcers scores 34 seconds after Ryan
Balcers and the Sens are back in action on Thursday night in New Jersey when they take on the Devils at 7 p.m. before returning back for a pair of games at Canadian Tire Centre this weekend against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames.