Anton Lander fired six shots in a game against the Toronto Marlies on Thursday, scoring one goal and adding two assists, as well as ringing a shot off the crossbar. The outburst gives him 28 points in 28 games, getting him back to the point-per-game level in the AHL.
The Coach’s View
After the game, Todd Nelson was asked about Lander’s game and unsurprisingly saw good things:
He’s playing with a lot of confidence, and he’s found his offensive touch… I like his game right now. He’s playing both ends of the ice very well, he’s quarterbacking the power play and he’s the first unit to go on the PK. I’m very happy with his play and I hope that continues.
Nelson also confirmed that he was trying for a power-vs.-power matchup with the Lander line; there was a lot of special teams play in a chippy game so that wasn’t a hard match but “for the most part” they saw the best opponents.
The score (5-3 in Oklahoma’s favour) didn’t reflect the Barons’ dominance against Toronto. The shots were 42-22 for Oklahoma and Nelson described it as “the most complete game” the Barons had played all year.
With Anton Lander on the ice things were especially tilted. At even-strength, the Barons fired 18 unblocked shots to the opposition’s four. Even without the goal and the two helpers and the six shots and his plus-three rating, it would have been an excellent night. Even if he wasn’t assigned to shutting down the Marlies’ top line it would have been an excellent night. He played extremely well.
The Player’s View
Of course, just because the coach thought Lander played well and the numbers thought he played well and I thought he played well doesn’t mean everyone agrees with that sentiment. When Lander was asked about his line’s performance against Toronto he didn’t exactly beam.
“I thought we played okay,” he said, “but I talked to [Ryan Hamilton] too and we felt like we had more to give to the team."
If he isn’t happy with a three-point night where his line dominated the play, what exactly is Lander’s goal?
“My goal is to win the games. That’s what it‘s all about. We have more to give. We were in the d-zone a lot tonight and we should have stopped that earlier and played more offensively.”
He was asked if it was a situation where as team captain his happiness had little to do with his personal game and was instead dependent on the team being everything he thought it could be. He did more than agree; he seemed surprised that any other viewpoint was possible:
It’s not just me, it’s everyone. This is a team game, it’s a team sport. If you play good and the team doesn’t play good, you don’t want to be at the rink. It’s been tough; we want to be in the playoffs and we have a long way to go. It has to start somewhere; hopefully we can remember this game where we did good and bring it on the road.
Lander’s been excellent all season, and he was particularly good against Toronto. But with the Barons six points out of a playoff spot, good luck getting him to admit it.