Roman Horak: a fantastic first month
As the season rolls along, the rookie is making an even stronger case to earn a permanent spot on the roster
The rookie has exploded offensively as of late, posting back-to-back two point games and has been a key reason the Flames have been able to climb back to .500 after a slow start to the campaign.
However, despite becoming somewhat of a media darling thanks to his humility and incredible performance this season, Horak tends to shy away from any attention being given to him.
"I'm not a big fan of myself on TV," he shrugged. "I don't like to watch myself."
That being said, it was hard for the 20 year-old to avoid being shown his first NHL goal - scored in spectacular fashion against the Avalanche on Wednesday night.
"When I saw it, it was pretty cool," he conceded, a small grin appearing on his face.
If his play as of late is an indication of how he will to continue to progress, Horak will need to get used to being the go-to guy during the post-game press roundup.
Part of the trade that sent Tim Erixon's signing rights to the New York Rangers, the 2009 fifth-round draft pick has become the story coming out of Calgary.
Not expected to make it out of the first few rounds of cuts, Horak's strong two-way play and incredible on-ice vision has helped him ascend the depth chart and push veterans either down to the fourth line or has relegated them to the press box as healthy scratches.
"He's been a good surprise story," Olli Jokinen said. "I didn't know much about him before camp started but he's making a good case to stay here all year. He's going to have a bright future."
In his seven games in Flames silks, the pivot has five points - pushing him ahead of such names as Jarome Iginla, David Moss and Mark Giordano on the stats sheet - and is assured enough in himself to start making the kind skilled offensive plays he has been making in his past two outings.
"We all knew he was talented but sometimes it takes young awhile to get that confidence out there," Tom Kostopoulos told the media after Friday's victory. "He's playing with confidence right now, so it's good to see."
While crediting notching his first NHL goal for his poise, he is quick to downplay his offensive outburst.
"I know it was two points again, I'm still a young guy," he said on Friday night. "I'm still learning. I'd say it was just two lucky nights in a row."
The Flames have counted on Horak's defensive awareness to help quell any offensive momentum the opposition may have and to make intelligent plays through the neutral zone. At this stage in his career, any offensive production is an added bonus.
"He's got no pressure at all to put up points on the board," Jokinen said. "He's playing good two-way hockey. But it's great to see him getting points, getting rewarded."
Jokinen, who has been providing Horak with guidance when it comes to situational plays and faceoffs, really likes the youngster's chance of sticking around for the entirety of the season.
"He's a good a kid. He's a smart kid. He wants to learn every day and he's asking questions (about) what he can do better, to be a better player. It's great to see a young guy who wants to learn. He works hard every day."
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