NHL.com: Wilson to start on top line for Preds

Monday, 05.7.2012 / 7:56 PM CT / Nashville Predators Playoffs Coverage
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NHL.com: Wilson to start on top line for Preds

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Colin Wilson has been in this position before.

Wilson, a high draft pick filled with promise but lacking in high-end results, was a healthy scratch at the beginning of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs before dressing for the final three games and offering a glimmer of hope for future success.

This year he played in only two of the final 12 games of the regular season and not at all against Detroit in the first round of the playoffs. He came back into the lineup for the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of this Western Conference Semifinal series against the Phoenix Coyotes, and in three contests has earned a promotion to the top line.

Maybe, just maybe, Wilson is starting to figure it out at the NHL level.

"An epiphany?" Wilson said. "Yeah, I think just the more throughout my career I've realized that nothing is being given to me in terms of ice time and just motivates me to play that much harder. Whatever they are telling me, I'm going to take it in, soak it in. That's what I've been doing lately, and I have been playing harder defensively. I have tried to step up my game after being healthy scratched."

The seventh pick in the 2008 NHL Draft for a team that has not had many picks that high in the first round of late, Wilson instantly became the team's top prospect when he first put on the team's sweater in Ottawa that summer. He also made a quick jump to the NHL, playing 40 regular-season contests and six playoff games before his 21st birthday.

Wilson has stayed in the NHL the past two seasons, but he hasn't fulfilled his vast potential. Nashville coach Barry Trotz can be demanding and Wilson has had to adjust -- especially at the defensive end of the ice.

"He has the potential to be a great offensive player," Nashville center Mike Fisher said. "He had a great start this year. He has a big body and is great down low. He sees the ice real well. His skill level is high. Sometimes it is hard for young guys. The grind of the schedule, it is tough mentally to figure things out. He's kind of trying to do that. He's played good when he's been in the past few games and that is a good sign. He's worked hard when he's been in and that's what you need to do.

"Sometimes you just go through different things. For me, I went through some injuries and had to overcome some of those things. There were some ups and downs. It is not easy coming in -- there are all different parts of the game that you have to learn. Some guys it takes longer than others."

Wilson played on the third line in Game 3 and earned praise from Trotz. He started Game 4 there before earning a mid-contest promotion to the top line in the second half of the third period as the Predators tried to solve Phoenix goalie Mike Smith in what ended a 1-0 defeat.

He'll start there Monday night, with Fisher and Martin Erat, at Jobing.com Arena as the Predators try to avoid elimination at the hands of the Coyotes in Game 5 of this series.

The kid from Greenwich, Conn., by way of Boston University is still only 22 years old. Many, many great NHL players have not unlocked the puzzle of the NHL before their 23rd birthday.

There is plenty of time for that, and these past couple games could be the push in that direction.

"Yeah, I kind of went from doghouse to outhouse pretty quick," Wilson said. "I don't know. It is something to think about, and it is something I'm using to motivate me to play. I realize I was in a bad situation and I don't ever want to go back to that. At the same time, I want the team to win and I want to help the team win."

Author: Corey Masisak | NHL.com Staff Writer

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
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10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 26 37 15 63
M. Ribeiro 82 15 47 11 62
R. Josi 81 15 40 15 55
S. Weber 78 15 30 15 45
C. Smith 82 23 21 11 44
C. Wilson 77 20 22 19 42
M. Fisher 59 19 20 4 39
J. Neal 67 23 14 12 37
R. Ellis 58 9 18 8 27
S. Jones 82 8 19 3 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 41 17 6 .923 2.18
C. Hutton 6 7 4 .902 2.61