Coming into his first postseason as a pro, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins winger Harry Zolnierczyk realized there wasn’t much about his game that needed to be changed.
That’s because the high-energy, physical style that Zolnierczyk played all season is a custom-fit for playoff hockey.
“It can be tough to play a full season with that edge and speed, but that’s the style of hockey I like to play,” Zolnierczyk said after Monday’s practice at Toyota Sportsplex. “I really haven’t had to change to much and just make sure I stay close to the details and don’t get away from things because you’re really amped up for a game.”
The third-year pro had a successful induction to the postseason during the Penguins 3-1 series win over Binghamton in the opening round. He scored two goals and added an assist in four games as head coach John Hynes used him in a variety of situations.
That versatility, combined with Zolnierczyk’s speed and physicality, have quickly made him a well-rounded playoff performer.
“He’s got one gear — play the game hard and fast,” Hynes said. “It’s doesn’t matter if it’s October or now, you see the same player in Harry and we can play him in a number of lines, left or right, and on the power play, penalty kill or a shutdown role.”
That versatility is what matters most to Zolnierczyk. It’s a result of his relentless style of play on the ice and the fact that he can chip in offensively as well.
“It’s good to know you have that trust with your coach,” Zolnierczyk said. “I try to bring energy regardless of what line I’m on. That’s how I judge my game.”
• Hynes said injured forward Anton Zlobin could return at some point during the Providence series. D Philip Samuelsson is making progress, Hynes said, but his return during the second round is unlikely.
• G Jeff-Drouin Deslauriers will not return for the rest of the postseason due to an injury, Hynes said.
• With Wheeling playing postseason games tonight and Thursday, Hynes said he didn’t know if any players would be sent down to suit up for the Nailers.
• After sitting out Game 1 against Binghamton and posting a goal and an assist in Game 2, center Mike Carman was a healthy scratch for the rest of the series. Hynes admitted it wasn’t an easy decision.
“Every guy brings a certain element, and as you move on in a series you look at the skillsets and you want to have a variety,” Hynes said. “We feel real comfortable with Mike int he lineup and he came in and played real well, but he has a certain skillset. They’re tough decisions to make, but you want to round out your roster with different elements as a series goes on.”