SUN Hockey Pool

Nudge, nudge

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

Call it a gentle nudge from above.

With sophomore Sam Gagner spinning his wheels offensively, head coach Craig MacTavish is hoping to give him a little push by adding him to the first power-play unit .

"We've got to get Sam some opportunity to get offence," said MacTavish. "We all know how important that is for a guy's confidence, especially a young player. We need him contributing a bit offensively, so we have to help him."

So Gagner, with one assist in six games, replaces Erik Cole on the power play with Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff.

"He's good there," said MacTavish. "He was good there at the end of the year. He can make plays and I think that will have a good residual effect on his overall game."

An overall game MacTavish believes could use a boost.

"The knee injury set him back a little bit," said the coach. "The two games he's had coming back from the knee injury have been mediocre by his standards. Now he's confident the knee is OK. We'll give him some more offensive minutes and that'll help."

Gagner says he can't really ask for any more support than what the coaching staff is already giving him.

"I think I've been getting a lot of opportunity," he said. "I've been getting a chance to play a lot in all the games. There's no complaining from this end, that's for sure.

"As for this (first power-play unit ) opportunity, I'm pretty excited about it. I just have to continue to work hard, prepare the same way and run with the opportunity as best I can."

And while one point in seven games isn't the way he hoped his season would begin, he says he isn't anywhere near the crisis stage.

"I've been through it before," he said. "It just so happens it's at the start of the year and it gets people worried a little bit. But I'm not worried. If I wasn't getting chances that would be cause for worry but I think I am."


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