Monday, March 28, 2011

Role Reversal



Throughout the past few seasons, David Legwand has received criticism for his lack of scoring from multiple sources, including myself. He has been on a scoring role as of late, and many wonder what it is about the end of the year that causes Legwand to break out on the score sheet. For instance, Legwand was the leading scorer for the Preds in the playoffs against Chicago. He was playing at a high level and had 7 points in six games for Nashville.

While playing in more important games toward the end of the season might have something to do with Legwand's rise in production, I think there is another reason that has brought about his most recent rise in production. Legwand has 22 points in 21 games since February 12th. What is significant about February 12th? Mike Fisher made his debut for the Predators.

Fisher's value for the Predators has been as misunderstood as Legwand's was prior to Fisher's arrival. Since February 12th, Fisher has been taking some of Legwand's minutes against the opposition's top line. That has allowed Legwand to focus more on his offensive game, and has been a key factor in Legwand's rise in production.

Until Saturday night against Dallas, Fisher had been held off of the scoresheet without a goal or an assist for 12 consecutive games and was starting to draw criticism from some of PredNation. There are two reason's behind Fisher's drought. One, he was obviously hurt during that stretch. He wasn't playing at the same level that he was when Nashville first acquired him(for more information on this, vist Predlines.com). The second reason is that he was playing the role that Legwand had played before Fisher was acquired.

It's clear that Fisher is a great defensive forward. He leads the league in blocked shots by a forward, and is always in the right position defensively. Naysayers will argue that his plus-minus rating is a minus-21. Come on, he played for Ottawa. Since joining the Predators, Fisher is just a minus-2. Considering that he is also playing against the other team's top line every night along with Legwand, that's really not that bad. That minus-2 has come while Fisher has been injured, and kept off of the scoresheet for a considerable amount of time.

This has caused me to gain more respect for Legwand. It's clear that Legwand has the offensive talent to produce. Don't give me that crap about him being out there for empty-net goals. There's a reason Legwand is out there when the net is empty. It's because Barry Trotz trusts him to be out there when the game is on the line. The acquisition of Fisher has also caused me to have more respect for the job Legwand did before Fisher got to Nashville.

Now that Fisher seems to be getting healthier, the Predators could have a very good situation on their hands. If Legwand continues to produce offensively, and Fisher starts to contribute on the offensive end, the Predators could have special run in the postseason. Both of them are extremely good defensive forwards, and they could be on their way to becoming extremely good two-way forwards. So, I'll eat my crow on the ripping I gave Legwand earlier in the season. It's clear now how important the role he and Fisher plays is to the success of the Predators.

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