Saturday, November 26, 2011
Tomas Holmstrom of the Detroit Red Wings has long been known for planting himself in front of the net and scoring goals. It's what has made him successful in his 15-year NHL career.
Throughout his illustrious NHL career, Holmstrom has scored 235 goals. He also has another 45 goals that he has scored in the postseason throughout his career. Most of those goals have come from right outside of the crease. At 38 years of age, Holmstrom is still successful by planting himself in front of the goaltender for the screen or tip.
Patric Hornqvist of the Nashville Predators also likes to go to the front of the net and make things happen. It's his specialty, and it's the main reason that he had a 30 goal season in his second year in the NHL.
There are a lot of similarities between the two players. Holmstrom is the perfect player for Hornqvist to model his game after, and the Predators' coaching staff puts an emphasis on that.
"We've shown him lots of clips of (Holmstrom). He knows that's what his bread and butter is. That's a unique skill. There are not very many guys who can do it as well as those guys do. Holmstrom is the standard, and he's been the standard for a decade and a half now," said Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz.
The similar style of play between the two Swedish forwards is something that Hornqvist sees as well.
"Both of us like to be in front of the net and screen the goalie and tip the puck," Hornqvist said.
Standing in front of the net isn't an easy thing to do. There are pucks flying at your head, you're getting shoved around by what seems like every member of the opposing team, and you have to endure a facewash on a consistent basis. But all of that is just second nature to a guy like Hornqvist.
"Oh that's fine. It's not hard at all. That's the whole point of the game, and you get used to it. The only thing is that you can't hit back. If you hit the guy back, you know the ref is going to see that and call you for two minutes. You just have to stay focused and don't do anything back to the defenseman because that's the thing the ref is going to see," Hornqvist said.
Hornqvist had a slow start to this season due to an injury, but has been an effective player for the Predators since he's returned to full strength. His seven goals on the season is tied for the team lead with Predators' rookie forward Craig Smith.
Both of these specialists in front of the net will go head-to-head with each other Saturday night when the Predators and Red Wings do battle at Joe Louis Arena. And both will likely be where they always are: Right in front of the opposing goaltender.