By Amanda DiPaolo
In 15 games, Patric Hornqvist has 5 goals and 3 assists for 8 points. He averages 16:43 minutes of ice time per game. On most nights, you can find Hornqvist parked in front of his opponent’s goalie. Hornqvist sets up screens, so shots will get by the goalie. Hornqvist ties up defenders, opening up space and potential shooting lanes for teammates. And of course, you can find the Swede looking to tip in shots or fighting for rebounds to stuff in the back of the net.
Head coach Barry Trotz says that “his competitive nature is tremendous.”
It is easy to assume that playing against Hornqvist can be a source of frustration for opponents, when asked if he thought Hornqvist got picked on a little more than usual Saturday night, Trotz was clear that his player doesn’t get hassled by opponents.
“Hornqvist doesn’t get picked on. He goes to those hard areas and that’s what happens when you go to the hard areas,” Trotz said. “The great thing about Patric is that he is going to go there. You can bump him, crosscheck him, do whatever you want. He’s going back there and that’s why he is going to score a lot of goals in this league. It’s a real talent.”
Teams that are playing against Hornqvist take great liberties in pushing Hornqvist around after each whistle. When play stops, Hornqvist usually takes a face wash as some disgruntled player will shove his glove in the right wing’s face. Or he gets pulled down to the ground, cross checked, and on Saturday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, Hornqvist had a goalie stick smashed over his head.
Marty Turco, the Blackhawks goalie, had had enough and was subsequently called for high sticking.
Last night, Turco wasn’t the only player who beat up on the Predators leading goal scorer from a season ago. At 13:19 of the first period last night, Brent Seabrook hit Hornqvist in the defending zone. At the end of the second period, Bryan Bickell hit Hornqvist so hard that it sent captain Shea Weber over to Hornqvist’s defense. Of course Bickell lost his footing, falling to the ground very quickly after the captain rattled him.
Hornqvist doesn’t think that he was targeted any more than any other night and by any other team. “No, it was just a hard game for everyone,” Hornqvist said, adding, “They had a good hit on me there. I liked the fact that everybody stood up for each other today. After somebody got hit everybody was all over that guy, like Webs did when I got hit.”
The Predators won Saturday night in a shootout, 4-3. Hornqvist credits how the team stood up for each other as a part of the team’s overall success. “It was just a great team effort today. Everybody stood up for each other and worked their hardest every shift and got the two points. We have to keep doing that. If we keep doing that we know we are going to be hard to beat this year.”
In the week ahead for Nashville, the Predators will now travel to Canada to face off against two original six teams. Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs host Nashville at the Air Canada Centre. On Thursday night, the Predators play the Montreal Canadiens. The Leafs are 1-7-2 in their last 10 games and sit near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Only the Islanders and Devils are worse. Montreal leads the Northeast Division and sits third in the Conference.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount. The next Predators home game is Tuesday, November 24th when the Preds take on the St. Louis Blues, televised nationally on Versus.