At 21 years old and just 24 games into his first full NHL season, Colin Wilson is anything but a finished product.
“There’s times (when he’s) without the puck there’s a ways to go with (Wilson),” Nashville Predators’ coach Barry Trotz said following a recent contest. “Just showing a little more poise, especially when things were getting hairy in the defensive zone and just puck management stuff. Sometimes you have to adjust your game to what’s happening in the game. I didn’t think he adjusted it, and that’s just a young guy.”
Recently, though, the 2008 first-round draft pick has been a pretty good starter.
Twice in the last three games Wilson has given the Predators a 1-0 lead with a first-period goal. Neither put his team in front for good, but then again no one else has done anything comparable to get them going over the last two weeks.
Nashville went five straight games without a first period goal before Wilson scored 5:10 into last Saturday’s contest against the New York Rangers. The Rangers finally got even in the latter part of the third and eventually defeated Nashville 2-1 in a shootout.
Wednesday, Wilson found the mark with 2:58 remaining before the first intermission at Columbus, which gave the Predators’ their first of three leads in an eventual 4-3 victory over the Blue Jackets.
The two goals doubled his total for the season, and the first snapped a 10-game streak without a point.
Normally an early goal is a good sign for Nashville, which is 6-1-3 this season when it scores first. Last season the Predators’ .800 winning percentage when scoring first (28-6-1) was second-best in the entire NHL.
“They got a 1-0 lead, (and) they’re a better team when they’ve got the lead,” Phoenix forward Shane Doan said Tuesday following Nashville’s 3-0 victory over the Coyotes.
Wilson actually was promoted to hockey’s equivalent of a starter when he replaced Patric Hornqvist at right wing on the Predators’ top offensive line with center Cal O’Reilly and left wing Steve Sullivan.
Coincidentally or not, they won both games including Wednesday’s when Wilson started the scoring.
“I put Wilson out there hoping he had a little bit of an offensive touch,” Trotz said. “He has a big body and I wanted to give them some weight.”