February 1, 2009
Nilsson gets physical
By DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA
He's the biggest guy Robert Nilsson has ever run from behind.
On Friday the Edmonton Oilers forward took a two-minute boarding penalty for hammering Minnesota Wild winger Derek Boogaard into the end boards.
"I don't even know what happened there -- seriously," Nilsson said yesterday. "That guy weighs 70 or 80 pounds more than me. I didn't even think I hit him that hard.
"I didn't go full-speed at him. I was just trying to take the body on the play."
Boogaard, one of the biggest players in the NHL, is listed at six-foot-eight and 257 pounds. Nilsson is five-foot-11, 185.
Yet it was Boogaard who was sent sprawling into the boards.
"When a big guy falls, he falls hard," Nilsson said. "I haven't seen too many people hit him that way. Usually it's the other way around."
Considering the Wild were not able to score on the ensuing powerplay, there was no real harm done by the play.
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish joked after the game that he was all for it, welcomed it and complimented the player.
Boogaard was able to shake off the hit without too much of a problem.
"After I hit him he just looked at me," Nilsson said. "I wondered if he was going to drop the gloves with me. That would have looked even worse, though."
Earlier in the contest, Boogaard had dropped the gloves with Oilers winger Steve MacIntyre.
The much-anticipated bout came in the later stages of the first period. It was MacIntyre's first fight since having an orbital bone broken by Pittsburgh Penguins enforcer Eric Godard.
Along with the penalty, Nilsson also went on to pick up an assist on Lubomir Visnovsky's second-period power-play goal.
"I'm feeling good," Nilsson said. "I've been feeling good the last eight games or so. It's easier to play when you feel good. You're whole body feels more comfortable even at practices."
Nilsson took some heat from MacTavish earlier in the year for not competing hard enough. But in the three games back since having his bell rung, Nilsson has a goal and two assists.
Two of those points came in the 10-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, which has since been put behind the team following the 3-1 victory over the Wild.
"We have been playing good lately," Nilsson said.
"I don't know where that game against Buffalo came from, but we came out and played a good game against Minnesota.
"It's true that whether you lose 3-2 or 10-2, it's only two points. But after that Buffalo game, it felt like there was no way were going to make the playoffs.
"Now with the win (over Minnesota) we're back up to fifth place. We know we can play well, and we deserve to be in the top eight this year.
"I think that's where we're going to be for the rest of the season."