Granted, it comes from an extremely small sample size, but there is little question that Sergei Kostitsyn’s greatest quote of the 2011-12 season came following the Nashville Predators’ 3-2 overtime victory over the Colorado Avalanche in a game played in early January.
In that game, Kostitsyn scored the game-tying goal in the third period. It was his fourth goal in five games, and those four goals came on just six shots fired on target.
“There is a time to shoot the puck, there is a time to pass the puck, so I am still going to make the play if there is a guy wide open or something,” he said at the time.
Arriving in Nashville Saturday night, Kostitsyn was the last Predator to report prior to Sunday morning’s opening of training camp. During the recently completed lockout, he had been playing with Avangard Omsk of the KHL.
In 27 games played, the talented winger had nine goals on 51 shots, good for a shooting percentage of 17.6.
Kostitsyn led the NHL in shooting percentage in 2010-11 at 24.7, and he was among the league leaders last season at 17.5%.
With Saturday’s start to the 2013 NHL season less than a week away, Predators head coach Barry Trotz hopes that Kostitsyn’s “time to shoot” is not when he is in Russia.
“He’s been very good over there,” Trotz said. “He was a first-team All-Star at the halfway point, scored some goals. He was playing up in Omsk. If you ever look on the map, it is way up north and it is a long way from everywhere. He has done a lot of traveling already.”
In a less than surprising announcement, Trotz said Sunday that Kostitsyn will start the season on the team’s top triumvirate along with familiar linemates Mike Fisher and Martin Erat. The trio played together for much of last season.
“I played almost whole year (with them) last year, so I think we are going to be good,” Kostitsyn said.
His center is happy to have his familiar wingers flanking him heading into 2013.
“I’m excited,” Fisher said. “Any time you can play with skill of that caliber and guys that are that good, it is exciting for me. I know we can pick up where we left off and we need to get better in a lot of different areas. We are going to have a little bit of time. Sergei has played a lot of games. He has played really well this year.”
Kostitsyn’s trip back to Nashville was quite the circuitous route. After leaving Omsk, he went home to Belarus. From his homeland, he traveled to Vienna, Austria where he caught a flight to Washington and finally on to Nashville.