Training camp storylines: Halischuk builds off playoff experience
Matt Halischuk is ready to be a regular in the National Hockey League. Called up in the middle of the year, Halischuk worked hard every game, never taking a shift off in the 27 regular season and 12 playoff games played last season for the Nashville Predators.
Scoring 4 goals and adding 8 assist for 12 points in those 27 regular season games, New Jersey’s 117th pick in the 2007 entry draft is not known for his pure offensive skill — but his dedication to detail, willingness to work hard and seemingly endless energy means one thing.
Halischuk plays Predator-type hockey.
Coming over to Nashville in the deal that sent Jason Arnott back to the Devils, Halischuk will likely be looked upon for increased production this season, and that would be welcome news to the 23 year old.
Halischuk wants to build off his successful playoff experience. “Any games in the playoffs, especially in the NHL, are going to help you learn more about the game and give you more confidence out there,” Halischuk said, adding, “Hopefully I can take what I learned last spring and put it towards this year.”
During Nashville’s historic playoff run last spring, Halischuk played the role of overtime hero for the Predators.
With just over five minutes left to play in double overtime in game 2 of the Western Conference semi-finals, Halischuk beat Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo high, on the glove side, to even the series at a game a piece. Vancouver went on to win the series in six games.
In July, the right wing signed a two-year, one-way contract with the club. Despite the one-way direction of the contract, Halischuk maintains that an opening night roster spot is not a foregone conclusion. The Toronto, Ontario native stresses he needs to compete hard for a spot on the team like any other number of players vying for open roster positions.
“Everyday you want to get better. Like I said last year, every day is a try out. You just want to keep getting better and show what you can do,” he said, adding, that becoming a regular in the NHL is “always the goal. You just have to keep working hard and take it day by day.”
Monday night, Halischuk played in the second game of the double header against the Panthers in Florida. Nashville lost 4-3, but in 17:33 minutes of ice time, Halischuk picked up two assists. Blocking 2 shots late in the first period, it is easy to see that Halischuk is laying it all out there for the Predators organization to see, with an eye towards October 7th in Columbus.
The Predators preseason action continues Tuesday night when Nashville plays the Washington Capitals at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore at 6 p.m.
Photo credit: Rachel Addison Photography