Some Preds not rising to the Occasion
Nashville Predators are known around their league for their drafting and being able to get the most out of their players in the line-up. While this year has shown both of those with Preds rookies coming in and playing above their heads, there have been some both rookies and non-rookies who haven’t played they way they should.
First let’s start with Kostitsyn; while he did start off the year strong playing at almost a point a game, he hasn’t been the same since getting injured earlier this month. He missed three games with an upper body injury in the seven games he has played since then he has only 3 points, all coming in one game. Kostitsyn was brought in to provide offence for this club and has yet to fully start doing that. His biggest problem is his unwillingness to get a shot on net, noted by the fact that he has only 14 shots on net in 17 games played this season. While he does have a 21% shooting percentage, it would be nice to see him actually try to score goals as he has a very good and deceptive wrist shot. For the Predators to go anywhere this year, they need two offensive lines to carry the load, and Kostitsyn is a critical part of making that happen.
Next we turn our attention to Nick Spaling, while many outside of Nashville only know of him as a grinder; Poile thinks he can be a whole lot more. Poile has said before he thinks Spaling could turn into a top six forward, while that might not happen this year, his play offensively certainly isn’t helping. He is used by Trotz as part of a shutdown line and is a strong PK player, but it looks as though he still doesn’t have that offensive touch the Predators were hoping for. While he showed flares of it last year in the playoffs, it hasn’t translated into this season, with only 6 points in 16 games, and not doing anything while given the opportunity to play top six minutes while Fisher was injured.
Finally we turn to Bergfors, who Poile touted to be the next Kostitsyn. Unfortunately for Preds fans who hoped to have found another good player amongst the scrap heaps that was not to be. In his limited time on the ice only playing in 11 games and never having much more than 10 minutes of ice time, he managed 2 points and 11 shots on net. Granted he never really got much of a shot as he played with 4th line players, but he never adapted to Trotz system and therefore never was given a chance. The Bergfors experiment is over though as he was sent through waivers unclaimed and then put in the AHL. He then was put on unconditional waivers probably heading back to Europe to play there, and to take his one-way contract off the books for the Preds.
While there are others who haven’t exactly played they way they were expected too, these were the most prominent examples of how with a team like Nashville, everyone needs to be on the same page. It’s a long season though, and I expect players to step up and get better as it gets closer to crunch time heading hopefully into the playoffs.