Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Preds need more out of veteran forwards

The Nashville Predators have lost four out of the past five games in regulation, and have only scored seven goals during that span. Of those seven goals, four have been scored by defensemen. Jordin Tootoo and Nick Spaling account for the other three goals.

Where are the veteran forwards that are supposed to be Nashville's top offensive threats?

Martin Erat- During the past five games, Erat has two assists. Those assists came in consecutive games against Minnesota and Detroit. Erat has seven shots on goal in the past five games.

David Legwand- After starting the season off on a blistering pace, Legwand has struggled since coming back from injury. He had an assist in his first game back against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he doesn't have any points in the past five games. Legwand has six shots on goal in the past five games.

Mike Fisher- Fisher registered an assist in the 6-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, which is his only point in the past five games. Fisher has 11 shots during that time span, six of which came in that loss to Edmonton.

Patric Hornqvist- Hornqvist hasn't registered a point in the past five games, and only has seven shots on goal during that same time span. Hornqvist is usually near the top of shots on goal for the Predators every night because of his willingness to go to the front of the net.

Sergei Kostitsyn- During the past five games, Kostitsyn doesn't have any points. He only has five shots on goal during that span, and only has 16 shots on goal for the season.

Among these five forwards that Nashville relies heavily upon to score on a nightly basis, they have three points in the past five games. They have 36 shots on goal during that same time span, and Fisher accounts for 11 of those 36 shots.

That simply won't get it done. The Predators don't have the luxury of having five of their top players going through an offensive slump at the same time. So how do they fix this problem? It may be as simple as changing the line combinations.

Craig Smith leads the Predators in scoring with 17 points, yet he's currently playing on the third line. Putting him back into a top six role might be the shake up that the Predators need. Smith can play both on the wing and at center, which gives Barry Trotz flexibility to put him virtually anywhere on the top two lines if he chooses to do so.

If Smith is elevated back into a top six role, who does Trotz replace him with on the third line? Legwand would be the logical choice if Trotz decides to put Smith in the center position. However, Colin Wilson has experience at center as well. Due to Kostitsyn's lack of production as of late, does Trotz decide to demote him as a wake-up call?

Regardless of whether or not Trotz decides to change the current lineup, the Predators are going to have to get more out of their veteran forwards if they want to have success.

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