Friday, February 10, 2012

Perron regaining scoring touch, sense of game on ice

Winger has three goals in two games triggered
by visit to local hockey store on recent trip

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When David Perron was wandering around the streets of Ottawa the night before a Blues game earlier this week, little did he know that it would trigger a mini scoring streak.

Well, it's not exactly what one might consider a plethora of goals, but for a guy who is still reconnecting himself to the game after missing 97 games, Perron will take whatever production he can get.

After dinner Monday night, Perron walked into a local hockey store in Ottawa and ended up in the stick section. Instead of the typical seek and buy or just browsing adventure, the 23-year-old Sherbrooke, Quebec native Perron got creative from then on.
(Getty Images)
Blues winger David Perron (57) has three goals in two games and is
continuing to find ways to reconnect with his game after a lengthy injury.

"I ended up in the stick section after a while and there was a shooting alley where you could test your accuracy and reaction time and stuff," Perron said. "I was just having fun and ended up with a big blister on my hand because of that. It's one of those (things), but I was like a kid having fun."

That fun led to a two-goal night against the Senators Tuesday night in a 3-1 victory, and Perron followed it up with another goal in Thursday's 4-3 win at New Jersey.

Perron had only four goals in his first 26 games since returning from a severe concussion that sidelined him from the game for 13 months. He's still getting himself re-acclimated with a game that craves every little detail a player can exhibit. Perron admitted he still thinks about what happened to him but those thoughts are subsiding and it's helped his game progress.

"Before the break, I was still thinking about my (concussion) injury a lot," Perron admitted. "Not that I'm not anymore, but I think I kind of turned the page a little bit there. That (All-Star) break was really good for me. Now I'm kind of going out there and thinking more about hockey than anything else.

"I heard from guys before that it took them three months, I heard that they've taken five months. Hopefully I'm at that three-month mark."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock hasn't brought Perron along slowly. He's thrown Perron into a top-six role immediately upon his return, given him power play time as well as big minutes. However, the veteran coach understands the mental and physical aspect is still a work in progress.

"I don't think it's the physical conditioning. I think it's the mental conditioning of going on the grind every day," Hitchcock said. "When you get time away from the game, it's a grind for you. I think he's just starting to figure out how hard it is to come to play. Things you take for granted because you're in the swing of things become more difficult when you've missed a lot of time. He's learning how hard the grind is. You have to work every day, you have to skate every day, you've got to compete hard every day. Sometimes mentally, when you've taken a break from the game like he has for a year basically, that's a grind.
(Getty Images)
David Perron reacts after scoring at New Jersey on Thursday night. Perron
has three goals in the last two games and has 20 points in 28 games.

"I think he's getting better and better from an effort standpoint. He's always had great skill, but the thing we like is that he's starting to put a consistent effort with the skill. He's working hard so the skill can come out. I think that's difficult for any player, whether you're a top player or a third-line player or a role player or whatever. I think when you take time away, learning the mental conditioning of putting the work in place ahead of the skill is very difficult and takes some getting used to because it isn't automatic. Once you're in the roll and you're in that groove, it becomes automatic."

Perron admits that his conditioning hasn't come full circle yet, but he is getting there. The most demanding time seems to come to light when the Blues play a number of games in a condensed time.

"So far in the back-to-backs, I am not real happy with my play," said Perron, who has seven goals and 20 points in 28 games. "I'll have the chance to change that this weekend. Hopefully I do a good job with that. It's one of those where you don't know when it's fully going to click. I know there's still some parts of my game that's missing. I'm trying to get there as soon as possible."

The Blues are 33-12-6 when Perron scores a goal over his career, and when he gets involved and gets engaged, good things tend to happen.

"It's been better. He's more competitive on the puck now," Hitchcock said of Perron. "Where we really notice it is he's starting to skate back to help us rather than think. When things become automatic, you do less thinking and more just reading and reacting.

"He's like a lot of guys coming back from a significant injury. You spend a lot of time on the ice trying to reconnect and re-engage, so you spend more time thinking than you do actually playing at times. But he's gotten better and better all the time. You can see marked improvement here in the last month."

And just how has engaging himself more helped Perron with three goals in the last two games?

"Just getting to the net ... it's always nice scoring a couple goals and getting the wins like we did," said Perron. "Hopefully, we keep rolling like that."

No comments:

Post a Comment