Monday, January 16, 2012
Since the days of Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg, the Nashville Predators haven't really had a player who is a legitimate threat to produce offensively in every game. While it's true that the Predators still don't have that prolific scorer, they do have a player that has been very consistent over the past year.
In his last 74 games played in the regular season, Martin Erat has put up 63 points. Those are not quite superstar-like numbers, but on a team like Nashville where defense is the main point of emphasis, Erat's consistent offensive game is very valuable.
During the Predators current five game winning streak, Erat has posted two goals and five assists. There are still times when he makes some questionable decisions with the puck, but he always seems to make up for a mistake with a good offensive play.
One of the biggest strong points in Erat's game is his strength on the puck. It's very rare to see Erat get knocked off of the puck when he has it in his possesion. His vision and balance allow him to find his teammates for the best scoring opportunity.
So far this season, Erat has 30 points in 37 games played, which is good for the second most points on the team behind Shea Weber. Erat's longest drought without a point in his last 74 games came from Dec. 26-Jan.5 of this season when he was held off of the scoresheet for five games.
Nashville has a 23-11-3 record with Erat in the lineup this year, but are 3-4-1 without him. While there are certainly other factors in that stat, there is no denying Erat's importance to the Predators. He still has his critics, but he's been as productive over the last calendar year as he has been in his entire career.
The Predators will need Erat to maintain his production as the playoff race heats up. With the trading deadline quickly approaching, it's possible that the Predators will try to acquire a scorer. If that happens, and Erat is able to continue to produce offensively, it's possible that the Predators will be one of the most complete teams in the league come playoff time.
(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)