Yesterday Craig MacTavish stated, “We haven’t an answer on that left side for awhile. We’ve tried a lot of players there, virtually everybody has had an opportunity there, and we need to find someone. Dustin is the best fit there when he is playing, and playing well.”
Tonight it will be Nilsson, and he is excited.
“Hemsky’s a great player, especially this year, and I know I will get more chances playing with him… I just have to bury them.”
Considering Horcoff has one goal in his last 15 games, if Nilsson can bury one chance that will be an improvement. As dominant as Hemsky has been since returning from a concussion, if one of his linemates starts to heat up he could be a two-point-a-game guy for a stretch.
Speaking of Horcoff, I asked him if he feels he needs to bear down more offensively.
“I probably need to relax a bit more and I think that’s been my problem lately. I’m squeezing the stick a little tight… I’ve had chances, with the crossbar last game, and if I relax that shot probably goes in.”
Pressing too hard never results in more goals, but with the coach calling out Penner, Pouliot and Brodziak to play with more jam, Horcoff needs to bear down and bury a few more chances. I know scoring is that hardest thing to do, and Horcoff never gets questioned for his work ethic, but his job is to produce and he needs to start producing more.
This team has no other options right now as far as #1 centre, so unless a trade happens Horcoff needs to find the scoring touch he had last year until his season was cut short.
Here are tonight’s lines:
- 12 – 10 – 83
- 21 – 89 – 26
- 18 – 13 – 78
- 27 – 51 – 46
Penner and Brodziak should play inspired considering what happened after practice yesterday. Brodziak explained what MacTavish said to him and his fellow doghouse dwellers yesterday.
“I have to play with more jam and more intensity in my game. Making sure I play physical every chance I get and never pass up an opportunity. I think it is a simple thing to get back in my game. Over my career it hasn’t been a real focal point of my game, but I know at this level it needs to be and it’s an element of my game I need to add. It’s something I definitely feel I can do and I don’t think I will have a problem with it.”
He also shouldn’t have a problem being ready to play tonight. With Penner on his left side, both players will have something to prove tonight, so you would HOPE they would play an inspired game. Reading between the lines with some of the conversations I had today in the locker room, it sounds like MacTavish didn’t want to just single out Penner again, so he went with two guys who haven’t been awful, but clearly can bring more intensity to their game.
Brodziak also added, “Coach said he was happy with my decisions and positional play, but just wants me to play more intensely. And maybe I’m guilty of not seeing that. It’s a little bit frustrating being called out, but realistically I know it was deserved, so I’m more frustrated in myself than anything else.”
Dwayne Roloson didn’t skate this morning, but he will play tonight. He faced lots of shots in practice yesterday so he got the morning off.
When asked about hearing cat calls walking off the ice after the Buffalo game, MacTavish laughed about the unique situation at Rexall.
“No one likes to walk through that when you lose a game, but like I’ve said before our fans have great perspective in terms of that. But not every team walks through the BAR on the way in and out… but we do, so those situations might occur.”
The uniqueness of Rexall Place: no other building in the league that I’ve been to has that set up, and I’ve been to 22 out of the other 29. It is great for young kids, and chicks trying to wheel, and outside of the odd profanity-laced tirade from some I’m-tough-when-I’m-drunk idiot it allows fans a close up look at the players. You take the good with the bad, and 90 per cent of the time the fans are supportive, but when you lose 10-2 you’d expect an odd “YOU SUCK”, or worse.