Preds' Hornqvist rubs some guys the wrong way

Monday, January 25, 2010 at 9:44pm
hornmain.jpg
Patric Hornqvist's penchant for getting in front of net has made him an irritant for opposing teams.

With all due respect to Spinal Tap, “Smell The Glove” could well be the story of Patric Hornqvist’s professional life.

In his first full NHL season the Nashville Predators’ forward has received countless face washes, which is when an opposing player rubs the open palm of his glove across one’s eyes, nose and mouth as a show of disdain.

These days it seems to happen to the 23-year-old every time play is whistled dead in the offensive end and he happens to be on the ice. Of course, it’s at those moments Hornqvist always seems to be near, on top of or tangled with the other team’s goalie.

“Sometimes you can laugh about it,” Hornqvist said. “It’s just part of the game. If you go in front of the net, it’s going to happen.

“I don’t try to irritate those guys, but when you hit the goalie you always get a scrum. They don’t like it.”

At 5-foot-11, 188 pounds, Hornqvist is no Jordin Tootoo, a long-time NHL agitator.

He does not fly around the ice and slam into anything he sees in another uniform. Instead, he seeks out the puck and figures the best place to find it is near the front of the net.

As it turns out, the impact is virtually identical.

“He can frustrate the other team be continuing to go there,” coach Barry Trotz said. “It’s like a bee that keeps chasing you around. It keeps coming back and coming back. He’s been really effective in a lot of ways.”

More than any other, he has been effective in producing points.

As they head into Tuesday’s game at Columbus (6 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee), Hornqvist leads the Predators with 20 goals and shares the team lead with 32 points. His six power-play goals also are the most by any Nashville player. Same for his six game-winning goals, which already equal the fourth highest single-season total in team history.

He has seven goals in his last nine games and has not been held without a point in back-to-back contests since Dec. 10 and 12.

“He’s producing for the team,” Tootoo said. “Not a lot of guys like to be in front of the net. That’s where you’re going to get second and third chances, and that’s where you’re going to score goals. He’s getting the job done.”

It’s also possible that he’s getting a bit of a reputation.

In last Friday’s 2-1 loss at Colorado, Hornqvist was called for a pair of penalties. The second was for goaltender interference in the third period and negated what would have been a game-tying goal by defenseman Ryan Suter.

Trotz disputed the call following the contest, after he reviewed video of the incident.

“The ref was in a good position and he made the call,” Hornqvist said. “Some nights it’s going your way and some nights the other way.

“I’m going to the front of the net. … That’s where I’m best.”

That incident aside, on most nights the worst that will happen is that he’ll end up with a face full of someone else’s glove. 

“The biggest thing with (Hornqvist) is that he has a lot of determination in his game,” Trotz said. “He’s got some skills and that. His skills aren’t exceptional, but his determination is.

“Because he’s willing to go into those and areas and stay in those hard areas, you’re not going to shoo him off. He’s going to keep going back, and he irritates because he’s persistent.”

Briefly

• Trotz said that forwards Joel Ward (lower body) and Marcel Goc (upper body) will not play at Columbus.

Ward missed Friday’s game at Colorado. Goc was injured in that same contest. Trotz called the status of each “day-to-day” but said they are “likely” to play Friday at Detroit. 

• Because of the injuries to Ward and Goc, forward Cal “O’Reilly was recalled for the fourth time.

He has four assists in 13 appearances for Nashville this season. Last week he played in the AHL All-Star Classic for the second consecutive year.