In an opening period where the Nashville Predators scored three goals on the Phoenix Coyotes, the best player of that period was not one of the goal scorers.
Colin Wilson had two spectacular chances in the first period and just seemed to be snake-bitten. The first chance came on an odd-man rush that he was able to turn into a breakaway. Wilson got a good backhand shot off on Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith, and the puck actually got through him. It just rolled off to the side instead of over the goal line.
Wilson’s second great chance was on another breakaway against Smith where he made a series of great, quick deke moves and brought the puck back to his forehand for the shot that beat Smith. However, it hit the crossbar. Those were two great scoring chances for a player who has struggled to find the net to start this season. Wilson has just three goals through 24 games so far this season after having seven goals through 25 games last season.
“It just kind of is what it is right now,” Wilson said. “I’m not getting too frustrated about it. They’re just going to start going in. I’m going to start feeling it a little bit more. Hitting the post and rolling to the side. It just kind of is what it is.”
While Wilson was kept out of the goal column, he did have an assist on Mike Fisher’s goal, which was Nashville’s second goal of the game. Wilson made a great pass through traffic to the high slot, and Fisher was able to fire it almost instantaneously past Smith to give the Predators a 2-0 lead.
“I just saw some guys coming at me, and I saw [Fisher] up high in the slot,” Wilson said. “We had talked about it previous to going out there about that high slot being open so I hit Fisher and he got a good shot off.”
Nashville’s quick start in the first period proved to be very advantageous for them. The Predators rattled off three goals in the first period, but surrendered two goals to Phoenix in the second period. However, the Predators were able to hold on to that lead in the third period, and Shea Weber put the game away with an impressive bank shot off the glass from his own defensive zone that traveled the length of the ice and into the empty Phoenix net.
“Being up one goal there going into the third and maintaining it was huge, so that quick start helped a lot,” Wilson said.
Wilson played a very strong game for the Predators and was arguably the best player on the ice for them the entire game. He’s just not getting the results in the goal column so far this season. Coming into this season, Wilson had high expectations placed upon him after a breakout year of sorts last season before his injury. Wilson had 19 points in 25 games for the Predators last season and was absolutely dominant on some nights. The Predators need him to be that player once again this season.
“When he’s moving his feet and he’s being real strong on the puck, he can do some terrific things for us, and we need him to do that on a night-in and night-out basis,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. “If he can do that, I’ll tell you his level of play and his production will go way up.”
Wilson and the rest of the Predators were on the road for the overwhelming majority of the month of November. They’ll travel to Columbus on Tuesday before another road game on Wednesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. However, the Predators have had a couple of home games in a row in their last two games and have four home games in a row starting Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers in a Thanksgiving tilt. Being home is something the Predators aren’t quite used to again as of yet.
“It’s weird,” Wilson said. “It feels weird being home and not sleeping in a hotel bed. It’s going to be good being home even though we’re going on the road tomorrow, but getting a couple of games at home will make you feel better playing in front of your own fans.”