Dissecting The Predators: Part 1 of 5
After a loss to the St.Louis Blues last night in a close game where the Preds outworked and outplayed the Blues for majority of the game but lose in shootout, I figured it would be appropriate to start this series by looking at the team’s offense.
While the team has suffered some critical injuries that are key to the Preds offense such as Lombardi, Legwand, Goc and Suter for extended times, their offense has still been underwhelming. Currently in the standing Nashville sits at 28th in the league in goals per game at 2.25 and their power play is 29th at a measly 9.6%. In this article I am not going to discuss the power play as that will come later in the series so for now I am sticking to even-strength offense.
One of the key factors holding back the Nashville Predators offense has obviously been the injury to Lombardi, as he is our number 1 or 2 centre and adds that key depth that allows the Predators to have such a balanced attack when he is healthy. With him out of the line-up O’Reilly was forced to take centre stage as the number 1 centre and has fared admirably posting 13 points in 20 games and leading the team offensively. With Lombardi out this also put more pressure on Legwand and Goc to contribute offensively and defensively as they are the team’s primary shutdown centres.
Another factor has been key players not stepping up in other absence, for me there are a few in particular that i feel aren’t pulling their weight on this team. One especially in my opinion has been Erat, who through 13 games has 5 points and only a single goal. Not only has he not produced offensively, but is earning top six forward minutes. Trotz is known for not giving free minutes but he seems to be trying extra hard to get Erat out of his slump.
This leads me into the next part of the segment where i discuss what it is i would like to see happen with this team. As you can tell form earlier in the article i think that Erat needs to be benched for a game, and show him that if he doesn’t start scoring he’s not going to be playing. With Erat benched this could open up a spot in the top six and Trotz should give either Wilson or Kostitsyn and chance on a higher line instead of trying to have them play as checking forwards. As of right now both are on a line with Spaling, now while I like Spaling he has 4 points in 41 games played with the Predators and has yet to score a goal. Wilson and SK have arguably the most potential and talent amongst the forwards and are not being given ample opportunity to produce. Finally I would like to see Klasen called up and given a real chance to try and spark the team. Obviously somebody would have to be benched for him to enter the line-up so I say just based on TOI/G that it would have to be Spaling and move the lines around to give Klasen a chance to produce.
These are lines I would like to see tried, now these are assuming Legwand is healthy and ready to play. If he isn’t I would just put Goc where he is and then put Spaling in Goc’s place. The reason behind these lines is simple, I feel these will get the most offense. The third line especially intrigues me as you could have the perfect complement of players, as Wilson is a bigger player who can hit, the smaller winger in Klasen who is very shifty and can make magic plays and finally SK who is also shifty in his own right and has shown he can win battles along the boards and make smart plays with the puck. Now keep in mind that these lines are based solely on trying to get the most offense possible and I understand that Trotz would never put the third line together as they may not be very responsible defensively.
These are just some basic idea’s and are really just observational and not based on numbers.
Thanks for reading and next week I will cover the team’s defence.