Nikita Filatov is young, and he's Russian -- he's working with two strikes already.
These are the joking words of a Columbus reporter yesterday during the Blue Jackets morning skate.
Neither of those things would be considered negative in many hockey circles -- just look at the skill Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin have brought to the NHL from Mother Russia -- but the Blue Jackets might be a little gunshy from their Nikolai Zherdev experience.
He was talented as anyone, but about as motivated to play hard as a penguin is to give flying a shot.
Zherdev's name has been brought up when talking to head coach Ken Hitchcock about the 19-year-old Filatov.
But there's a big difference. Filatov appears willing to put in the work that will earn him the trust of his coach.
"He's been great. He wants to play. When he gets in ... it's gonna be tough getting him out," said Hitchock, suggesting Filatov would suit up in Edmonton tomorrow.
"He's hungry now."
Watching games from the press box and having to work out in gruelling fashion on the ice well after the regulars have headed to the hotel on game days tends to help motivate.
Sitting out the last three games -- including last night's tilt at the Saddledome against the Flames -- Filatov's eyes light up when he's told what the coach said about him minutes ago.
"OK. That's good news," he said with a grin. "It's good to hear about the opportunity."
'GLENNIE' HAS MORE GAME
The points Curtis Glencross is putting up as a member of the Calgary Flames don't surprise former coach Ken Hitchcock.
It's the way he has come around at the other end of the rink that impresses the Blue Jackets bench boss.
"When he was a younger player, Glennie was a guy that was, from the redline in, very dynamic," Hitchcock said of Glencross, who scored in the first period of last night's 6-3 win at the Saddledome.
"From the redline back, you did not know what he was gonna do -- I'm not sure that Glennie knew what he was going to do.
"He's really become a dependable player."
Killing penalties regularly and also now added to the top line to provide balance in their own zone, Glencross has come a long way from the guy Hitchcock says always wanted to play "on the move."
"Now he plays a very solid, sincere game that's very effective."
AS CHOSEN BY STEVE MACFARLANE
JAROME IGINLA, FLAMES
The captain's best effort of the year. A goal and two assists to his credit.
DION PHANEUF, FLAMES
His long-distance rush resulted in the winning goal.Pretty solid on defence, too.
DERICK BRASSARD, JACKETS
A goal from the point on the powerplay and an assist on another man-advantage.