With Chris Kunitz returning from a one game suspension and Matt Cooke scheduled to return in the second round (assuming Pens advance), there’s a good chance that Eric Tangradi might have played his last post-season game in 2011.
However, Tangradi’s performance in Game 4 won’t go unnoticed and after a lost second half of the season due to injuries, Tangradi’s ability to step in and contribute is big for his development going into next season.
This season has been a learning experience for Eric, but what has impressed me with him is how he’s understood the importance of trying to be a dominant front net presence player and how he’s become a student of the game.
When Ryan Malone was here in Pittsburgh, it was John LeClair who Malone learned from to be an effective net-front player and Tangradi told me today that the player he’s watching a lot to learn from is Chris Kunitz.
Here are some highlights from my conversation with Tangradi this afternoon:
Importance of stepping up for the team in Game 4 after a lost 2nd half of season: “It was great, ” Tangradi said. “Haven’t always felt as good as I have about the game of hockey, and the way I played in a while and it felt good for my confidence, ” Tangradi said.
“I’ve done a lot of hard work the last few months to get into that situation and feel I’ve made the most of it.”
On motivation going into next season (if he doesn’t appear in another post-season game): “This entire season has been a learning curve, ” Tangradi said. “There was so many ups and downs. So many things I had to learn on and off the ice and I think having played in a playoff game and getting that experience under my belt will help me and motivate me for the summer, ” Tangradi said.
Role of developing into front-net presence player: “I think that’s the role I’ve really understood this year, ” Tangradi said.
“After watching hours and hours of tape and being successful there, I fully understood it. Now realize what I can do to be effective in that area.”
Tangradi on studying Chris Kunitz“This season I’m watching a lot of Chris Kunitz, ” Tangradi said. “We’re both left wingers, left shots, he plays net front on the power play.
“So, definetely trying to study his game, and trying to find the soft areas that he does. I think that’s been the benefit the last few months of not being able to play, by being on top watching players and preparing yourself.”