In October, the story of the Nashville Predators was all about their league-leading, unstoppable offense, led by newcomer Matt Duchene and star defenseman Roman Josi. But now in November, a new story is quickly developing.
No, the offense hasn’t completely crashed to earth. It’s still humming along at around at just below a four goals per game pace, and is currently 2nd best in the league.
But it appears as if there’s about to be a significant change to the top two forward lines.
Through the first dozen games or so, the top two lines were as follows:
Calle Jarnkrok – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson
Mikael Granlund – Matt Duchene – Filip Forsberg
Those top two lines were extremely good at generating scoring chances and at putting the puck in the net. And even when Forsberg missed six games with a lower body injury, Kyle Turris stepped into the 2nd line center role, moving Duchene to wing.
But over the last couple games, we’ve seen in-game line shifts from Peter Laviolette that suggest a more permanent change is coming. And it involves one of the most popular line nicknames in Predators history.
That’s right… “JOFA” might be back.
Preds switching things up?
During Thursday’s overtime loss to the Calgary Flames, Ryan Johansen skated with Forsberg and Arvidsson for only about one minute at 5-on-5. But then on Saturday, after the Preds went down 2-0 to the New York Rangers, “JOFA” was back together… and this time for over six minutes.
Forsberg/Johansen/Arvidsson (6:25 TOI)
Forsberg/Duchene/Granlund (6:37 TOI)
And Duchene’s line saw a signficant dropoff when Forsberg moved up with 92 and 33.
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) November 2, 2019
Though the Preds did not find the game tying goal late in the game (despite having a 6-on-4 power play to make it happen), Johansen line with Forsberg and Arvidsson was the best unit on the ice. They generated plenty of chances to tie the game and were a constant aggressor in the Rangers’ zone.
Meanwhile, Calle Jarnkrok was bumped to the 2nd line with Duchene and Granlund. They did not have much success. I’m not sure if Jarnkrok with stick with Duchene and Granlund. While he does have a decent shot, Jarnkrok doesn’t look to use it very often, and those two “pass-first” players need a shooter to target.
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) November 2, 2019
So what happens moving forward?
Well, if the coaching staff wants to keep “JOFA” around (and I think they do, if they liked what they saw on Saturday), then we could see someone like Craig Smith move up. Smith is a more natural “shoot-first” winger that could pair excellently with the playmaking of Duchene and Granlund.
If that happens, here’s what the lines could look like going into Monday’s game against the Red Wings:
Viktor Arvidsson – Ryan Johansen – Filip Forsberg
Mikael Granlund – Matt Duchene – Craig Smith
Rocco Grimaldi – Nick Bonino – Calle Jarnkrok
Colton Sissons – Kyle Turris – Austin Watson
Get Them Digits
- 10 — the number of power play goals the Preds have scored this season already (they had 33 all of last season)
- $19.05 million — the cap hit for Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons (the cap hit for those three was only $10.25 million last year)
- 9 — the number of former 1st round picks the Preds currently have on their team
Just something I thought was interesting.
The number of 1st round picks currently rostered by each Central Division team:
COL – 11
MIN – 11
WPG – 10
CHI – 10
DAL – 9
NSH – 9
STL – 8
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) November 4, 2019
GIF Me That Good Stuff
A rare non-Preds appearance in my weekly GIF feature! This was too good not to share.
Boudreau announcing his own firing mid-game pic.twitter.com/MXb5JHLK4X
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) November 3, 2019
Preds Quote of the Week
“I haven’t been a part of that kind of game, I don’t think in my career… for me personally, it was, for sure, one of the easier shutouts.”
— Pekka Rinne on the Preds’ dominating 3-0 win over the Blackhawks on Tuesday
Let’s Do That Hockey
- Monday November 4th @ Detroit Red Wings (6:30 PM; FS-TN)
- Thursday November 7th @ Colorado Avalanche (8:00 PM; FS-TN)
- Saturday November 9th @ San Jose Sharks (9:30 PM; FS-TN)
There was plenty of big news for the Preds this week. On Tuesday, the massive eight year contract extension for Roman Josi. Then on Saturday, the unveiling of the new Winter Classic sweater on Saturday.
Then on the ice, the Preds had three very different hockey games. A dominant, “complete 60-minute” win over the Blackhawks on Tuesday. Then a blown three goal lead to the Flames, leading to one of the most insane overtime goals you’ll ever see. Then on Saturday, the Preds dominate the game once again, but can’t get much by Alexandar Georgiev.
So after breakneck action at home this past week, now the Preds get a nice long road trip to refocus their energy.
Though I don’t have any evidence to support this, I get the sense that the team is looking forward to some time away from home. With all the distractions that home games can bring, not to mention the side-shows that have taken place in the last week, I imagine the team is looking forward to just playing hockey on their own terms for a few days.
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —