Cody Glass led the Milwaukee Admirals in points last season with 62. That’s roughly 50% more than Cole Smith had with 41. Both players earned an NHL roster spot in camp this preseason. Yet, Cole Smith is, without question, playing NHL hockey almost every night while Cody Glass is a healthy scratch.

Hynes’ lines

The Nashville Predators’ forward lines are a mess. The first line, which had remained fairly untouchable, even saw change a few games ago when Mikael Granlund was moved down to the second line wing while Ryan Johansen moved up to center Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene on the first line. That was a short-lived experiment that gave Cody Glass a chance to center the second line, which only lasted a couple of periods. The second line still has an open position on the wing. The third line, notably the “Herd” line, has mostly started games together.  The fourth line has been largely populated by the Cole Smiths and Michael McCarrons of the world. Then, once the referee drops the puck, those lines have been shuffled more than I care to explain.

I made a comment recently that the success of the Nashville Predators is less dependent on which players are on the ice and more dependent on how those players play they game. I’ll stand by that statement. However, I’m ready to add the qualifier that the skill levels of the players on the ice greatly impacts the way they play the game.

As it stands, Phil Tomasino is playing in the AHL, Eeli Tolvanen has been a healthy scratch for the last three games, and Cody Glass has been a healthy scratch for the last four games.

Meanwhile, Cole Smith, Michael McCarron, and Zach Sanford have been in the lineup on a nightly basis. And, the results haven’t been great. Now, I’m not saying that the recent bad results are because of these players. There’s been plenty of sloppy defensive play from nearly everyone on the team recently, and I’m not ready to get into Matt Duchene’s penalty problems. However, when John Hynes says the team needs to play the game in a way that puts them in the best position to win, it’s easy to argue that the team certainly is not playing the game that way. What’s even more clear is that John Hynes isn’t playing the players that can put the team in the best position to win.

Bad defensive play aside, the team is also struggling to produce offense. With all the line adjustments, roster tinkering, and the nightly appearance of the dreaded line blender, it also seems that John Hynes doesn’t have confidence that some of the players can get the job done on the ice. It’s entirely possible that this Predators team will be on the outside looking in come playoff time. And, if that’s your “worst-case scenario”, then what’s the harm of letting the kids (Tomasino, Tolvanen, Glass) play? Again, if the worst case scenario would be missing the playoffs, watching the youth develop chemistry and “figure it out” on the ice would be much more entertaining than watching Cole Smith come up short on yet, another breakaway.

With calls to fire John Hynes and General Manager David Poile taking on a fever pitch on various forms of social media, it’s clear the fanbase is taking notice of the poor results. Remember this tweet?

The popularity of this tweet should tell you that the fanbase would be excited about Cody Glass actually getting to play on a nightly basis. After hours of searching, I was unable to find any tweet about Cole Smith or Michael McCarron that was anywhere near as popular as this one.

Now, before I’m accused of suggesting certain players should play because “it would be popular with the fans”, think about this–if you had to choose one forward line that would give you the best chance to win, taking both offensive and defensive play into consideration, which three would you choose out of the following: Cole Smith, Eeli Tolvanen, Michael McCarron, Phil Tomasino, Zach Sanford, or Cody Glass?

When you break it down like this, it’s hard to see why the same players are on the ice each night while others sit in the press box, watching from afar. If John Hynes expects the team to play in a way that gives them the best opportunity to win each night, he needs to play the players that give the team the best chance to play that way. Cole Smith, Zach Sanford, and Michael McCarron have been given a much longer leash than Glass, Tomasino, and Tolvanen. Quite frankly, it’s hard to understand why.

UPDATE

Cole Smith will still play, however:

Deployment will be half the story on these changes, but it’s good to see that Hynes is willing to make changes when results have been rough. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

–featured image via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports–