Predators forward Colin Wilson could have passed the puck off or looked for a different option on a play early in the first period against the Avalanche on Monday in Denver.
Instead, Wilson focused on the net, saw an opening and fired a shot toward Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov. It hit teammate Craig Smith in front and then bounced right to forward Sergei Kostitsyn, who buried the rebound for a goal.
The score exemplified Wilson’s new mindset this season.
In years past, he might have delayed and looked for a pass, or waited to make a better shot for himself. Now, his goal is to send the puck toward the net whenever he can.
The new focus has paid major dividends for the 23-year-old Wilson, who leads thePredators with 14 points in 17 games.
“I think I’m attacking the net regardless,” Wilson said. “I think there, I saw the shot, because that’s what I had.”
Predators coach Barry Trotz has said in previous years that he’d like the 6-foot-1, 216-pound Wilson to play more of a power forward’s game and muscle his way toward the net.
At times, Wilson would come into the zone at full speed, but instead of going to the net he would spin toward the boards to slow the play, stemming his forward momentum.
“I was always taught as a kid to play keep away with the puck and try to have it on your stick as long as possible,” Wilson said. “I wasn’t attacking with it because I just wanted to have it and didn’t want to give it to the other team.”
It’s not that his previous mindset was ineffective. Wilson had 35 points in 68 games last season and was a top-line player for most of the year. But the Predators hoped for more offense out of the seventh overall pick in the 2008 draft.
So far this season, Wilson is the only Predators player with a positive on-ice Corsi rating, according to the websitebehindthenet.ca. It means Nashville has attempted more shots while Wilson is on the ice than the opposing team has attempted.
He also has become more consistent. After posting one point in his first seven games this season, Wilson has 13 points in his last 10.
“He’s always a disher first and always makes those good plays, but when the shots are there, he should take them,” forward Brandon Yip said. “He can score goals; he has a great shot and a knack for the net.”
Reach Josh Cooper at 615-726-8917 firstname.lastname@example.org.