VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Heading into this season, Blake Comeau had a simple goal. After a disappointing 2008-09 season in which he was demoted to Bridgeport, Comeau wanted more than a regular spot in the lineup, more than a few hot streaks of production. He wanted to be an impact player.
With six goals and five assists in his last eight games, including his first NHL hat trick against Chicago March 2, Comeau seems poised to fulfill that role.
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His recent success followed some adversity. Struggling with consistency, Comeau was scratched for significant stretches this season, including an eight-game stint from Nov. 21-Dec. 9.
"It was hard at the beginning of the season while I was sitting out all those games to stay positive, but that was one thing I really did tell myself, that I knew that I could play at this level and that I could be a player that could contribute to this team," Comeau said.
One area in which Comeau has drastically improved is his willingness to shoot the puck.
Comeau said an emphasis on shooting is something that his father, agent and coaches have encouraged throughout his professional career.
Only recently has he begun to master it as he averaged 4.3 shots during a three-game point streak heading into last night's matchup against Vancouver.
"It's like something just clicked. I don't know what it was. I couldn't ever find a balance between knowing when to pass and when to shoot.," Comeau said. "I've always considered myself a smart hockey player and a good playmaker. but now I'm finding that balance."
Said coach Scott Gordon: "He's shooting the puck, protecting the puck, and going to the net. He's simplified his game so he's not looking for the perfect play. He's got his feet moving, the physical element of his game back and he's not taking away opportunities by overanalyzing things."
Now, the key for Comeau is consistency.
"He's shown flashes of having it," Gordon said. "But it shouldn't be about coming out of a lineup to see what you need to do. It's hard to say what he's capable of, but if he's consistent he'll be successful."
Comeau hopes his strong play bodes well not just for himself but for the future of the team and the direction of the organization. He wants to be a part of the "core" group of young players that Gordon and general manager Garth Snow reference as integral to the team's rebuilding plan.
"I hope I am," Comeau said. "I take a lot of pride in being an Islander and I think we have a great core of young guys, mixed with a group of older guys. I definitely want to be considered in that core group because there is not one other team I wished I was playing for."
Notes & quotes: Kyle Okposo missed last night's game and is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury . . . Trent Hunter (upper body) played for the first time since March 2 . . . Jeff Tambellini, who is from Vancouver, returned to the Islanders' lineup after suffering a groin strain during Saturday's 4-2 win over the Devils.