After watching the many home games in December and early January, the Predators have held their own and done so without some of their top talent such as the concussion suffered by Shea Weber and upper body injury of Colin Wilson. After some analysis, it seems some of the other top paid performers haven’t been performing for the Predators since December 6th; a 14 game stretch that saw a huge dip in production from the multi-million dollar men of the Nashville Predators…
Aside from Weber ($7.5M) and Rinne ($3.4M) the Nashville Predators boast six players that earn a cap hit over $2M per year:
David Legwand – $4.5M
Martin Erat – $4.5M
Mike Fisher – $4.2M
Ryan Suter – $3.5M
Patric Hornqvist – $3.08M
Sergei Kostitsyn – $2.5M
Over the course of 14 games since December 6th, these six players have only accounted for 15 goals. To be fair, these six players also contributed for 23 assists but turn that around and check out their combined -22 plus/minus rating.
To break it down further, let’s take a look at the individuals:
David Legwand – 3G, 2A, -8 – He has been lost for the most part either because his linemates aren’t setting him up or poor defensive play. On the penalty kill, Legwand has been pretty good, but his five on five play has been lacking and at a -8 he needs to step up and play to his contract with the home stretch in sight.
Ryan Suter – 0G, 7A, -5 – Suter is a stalwart on defense but watching him last night, it looks as if he is expecting everyone to be on the same page as him with terrifying results. The Jamie Benn goal last night was all on Suter for his blind pass and numerous times he has been outworked on the boards and made poor decisions coming out of the defensive zone.
Martin Erat – 3G, 7A, -2 – Erat is not at fault as much as his counterparts, but for someone who had 7 PP goals last year to only have 1 in half as many games doesn’t bode well for the Predators man-advantage. The positive for Erat is that nobody on the Predators can carry the puck in and create chances like him…too bad most Predators are on the wrong side of the net when he tries to set-up the centering feed.
Mike Fisher – 2G, 2A, -3 – After 14 games, 4 points just isn’t going to cut it in the NHL. Coupled with the fact that Fisher is the third highest paid forward on Nashville’s roster and alternate captain, Fisher needs to find a way to contribute. Just playing solid defense is not enough since Smithson and Spaling can do that for a fraction of the cost. The Predators need goals and Fisher is a proven scorer putting up 40-50+ point seasons multiple times.
Patric Hornqvist – 2G, 3A, -2 – Hornqvist is the next generation of Tomas Holmstrom. A savvy forward who parks himself in front of the net and waits for a tip-in or a rebound shot to score the garbage goals that drive the goalies of opponents furious. Only problem, the Predators are passing up too many opportunities to shoot the puck leaving Patric with not much to battle for in front. Having Weber back will help in this regard, but much like Erat, Hornqvist has to start clicking on the PP where he only has 1 goal on the year.
Sergei Kostitsyn – 5G, 2A, -2 - Yes…he scored a hat trick recently. That is the only reason his totals look slightly more sparkling than before Sunday night. Kostitsyn needs to shoot the puck. He has the uncanny ability to find the back of the net more often than not but his shots on goal are dangerously low (38)…and his shooting percentage is abnormally high (21.1%).
In summation, the Fisher/Hornqvist/Kostitsyn line just isn’t working. Trotz needs to find a way to shake things up and having Colin Wilson back will be a huge bonus to the one-armed bandit approach of Trotz’ line combinations. Rolling four lines has been key to wearing out the opponent so the Nashville Predators might start getting the puck going the other way and waking the “slumping giants” back into the players that earned those contracts. Maybe this:
What say you Predatorial readers? Which lines would you like to see to break this pattern of mediocrity?