DETROIT >> Nine games into the season and Tomas Tatar had just one goal.
Since then, Tatar has eight goals in this last 12.
“I told you guys, I wasn’t worried about it at all,” Tatar said. “You won’t lose it if you can’t find the net once. I’m not afraid I’m not going to score goals. It’s all about confidence, keep shooting the puck. It eventually will find the net.”
He’s got goals in three straight games and is tied with Gustav Nyquist for the team lead with nine on the season.
“Earlier in the season I still had chances I just couldn’t for some reason find the net,” Tatar said. “Right now it gives you a boost of confidence after scoring a few goals. You feel good about yourself, but more importantly the team is winning and everybody is feeling really well right now and everybody is playing really good and we’re feeling good.”
Tatar began his first full season in the league a year ago a healthy scratch in eight of the first nine games. He finished the year a goal shy of 20.
“Tats considers himself a scorer,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “When you think you’re scorer and you don’t score you probably press a little bit. Tats has just got to become a 200-footer. He’s got to learn to play and play without the puck all the time and he’s got to be competitive every night. If he does those things he’s going to score more. So that’s his biggest challenge, just to become a player.
“He wants to be a top-six forward,” Babcock continued. “If you want to be a top-six forward you got to play every night.”
Tatar admits he likes to slow the game down by holding onto the puck more and he gets to learn from one of the best in the business at every practice, Pavel Datsyuk.
“There aren’t many players who can slow down the game, but I think one of the best is Pavel,’ Tatar said. “He can make his space and look around. I think every player wishes he could be as good as him at that. That’s a big benefit to have.
“I’m not a big fan of the fast game either,” Tatar continued. “I like to take my time and think about what I’m going to do, whether I want to shoot or pass. Pavel’s a great example for me.”
Tatar has also been shooting the puck more this season, averaging 2.65 shots on goal. He averaged 2.16 on net a season ago.
“I’m trying to create more chances and opportunities to score and so far it’s working,” Tatar said. “Hopefully I’ll keep shooting and finding the net.”
Tatar proved he was a goal scorer during Grand Rapids run to the Calder Cup in 2013, totaling 16 goals and five assists. He was named the playoff MVP.
“Tats is a competitive kid,” Babcock said. “I might be harder on Tats than anybody on the team just because I think Tats has a chance to be a real player. We’re going to hold him to that. We think he should be good every night because he’s capable of being good every night and every shift. We expect a lot from Tats and he’s capable of doing that.”
In four seasons with the Griffins he tallied 87 goals.
“He’s one of those guys who loves to score,” Johan Franzen said. “He’s a little hard on himself when he doesn’t score but he’s always a great player. He’s strong on the puck and creates a lot of offense but it’s great to see him score. It really makes him better. His confidence grows a lot, it’s good to see.”