“I’m never going to feel comfortable out there in the sense that ‘I’m good now.’ I’m never going to be thinking about that. I will never be taking anything for granted anymore.”
– Colin Wilson, October 8, 2012
In a young season where offense has been hard to come by for the Nashville Predators, Colin Wilson has thrived more than ever before. The 23-year-old leads the team with four goals and eight points through 13 games. It’s difficult to make an argument that he hasn’t been the Predators’ best forward thus far.
It’s a stark contrast to Wilson’s play late last season when he was a regular healthy scratch. As his game got complacent and he wasn’t doing the little things, he found himself watching playoff hockey as a spectator – again. It’s something that kept Wilson motivated throughout the lockout and into this season.
“The playoff thing is in the back of his head and he doesn’t want that to happen again,” said David Legwand, who has spent much of this season as Wilson’s linemate. “He’s using it to his advantage. He’s got a chip on his shoulder and playing well and that’s a big thing for our team.”
“It’s my fourth year. Now it’s time to start growing up and maturing. I’m not a veteran but I’ve been around long enough to start learning the game better, how to be a pro, how to play consistently over the season,” Wilson said.
Consistency has always been the biggest issue for Wilson. One game he’d play like his hair was on fire; the next game he’d be invisible. It became a troubling trend for the former first-round pick.
Wilson insists, though, that those days are over. Like he said back in October, he’s not taking anything granted anymore.
“Normally I’d get complacent after having a good game; I’d think to myself that I’m all set and I’d take the next couple games off,” Wilson said.
The Boston University product has consistently been the Predators’ best forward this season because he’s driving to the crease and is always looking to get more pucks on net.
It helped him in his three assist outing in St. Louis last week. It helped him notch two big goals against the defending champs last Thursday. And it helped Tuesday night when he scored the overtime winner against San Jose.
“I’ve been trying to get to the net. I’m trying to get there because that’s where the pucks are, and it’s worked out. That’s where you have to be moving your feet and just getting to the net and using your stick skills. That’s how I’ve been creating my offense,” he said.
“He’s had a couple big games for us and has been strong, and that’s what he has to do. He’s a younger player in the league that is finding his way out there,” Legwand said.
Head coach Barry Trotz has noticed a different player wearing No. 33 this season, although he believes there is still a lot of untapped potential in Wilson.
Said Trotz, “There are times where, yes, he’s getting it … The thing I do like about Colin is that he’s played banged up a little bit. In the past he wouldn’t play through that. He’s playing through that. He used to use it more as an excuse; now it’s not. I see him driving harder in certain areas and he’s growing; he’s more consistent in a lot of areas. There is still room for growth, but he’s got great potential.
“He was getting comfortable in a lot of areas and when he gets comfortable he kind of loses his spot … It’s come pretty easy to Willy. He’s always been the strongest guy on the ice, the bigger body and that type of thing. When you get to this level it’s more of an equal playing field. If you’re going to be a good player in this league you have to fight for inches. At times he wasn’t willing to fight for those inches. He’s more willing to do that now.”
Even though Wilson is showing more signs of the player the organization hopes he can be, the forward reiterated: he’s not comfortable and he’s tired of taking steps back.
If the talented power forward continues to do the things he’s doing now, it will be impossible for Trotz to bench him come playoff time.
“I’m just trying to get pucks to the net. If I concentrate on that part of the game, the rest takes care of itself,” Wilson said.