The Nashville Predators have been racked by injuries in this part of the season. It’s been bad, but it could be a whole lot worse. Nashville is 5-4-1 over the last 10 games and that’s impressive considering not having Viktor Arvidsson, P.K. Subban, and Filip Forsberg.
Help is on the way and it’s needed for a franchise looking to win its first championship.
Viktor Arvidsson, P.K. Subban Close to Returning
Two Predators close to coming back to the lineup are Viktor Arvidsson and P.K. Subban. Both skated at Monday’s morning skate prior to Nashville’s game at the Ottawa Senators. It’s a welcome sight for fans of one of the early-season Stanley Cup favourites.
Arvidsson is part of the celebrated “JoFA” line with Ryan Johansen and Forsberg. His speed helps Nashville make quick counterattacks. Ryan Hartman has filled in admirably during this stretch, but coach Peter Laviolette can’t just plug anyone into the lineup replace the speedy Swede.
Subban’s absence has seen more ice time for Yannick Weber, Matt Irwin and Dan Hamhuis. All three have are veterans are experienced and capable. However, Subban is one of the best defencemen in the league. He can make things happen on the ice and create offence for the Predators.
Nashville has been forced to change their usually fast-paced style of play to a more conservative attack. The Predators may be just above .500 with the loss of the trio, but it’s a testament to how beep their lineup is.
The Waiting Game for Forsberg
Arvidsson and Forsberg are close to returning, but Forsberg’s return is further away. He is projected to be out until at least January and that’s another blow to the Predators’ dynamic offence. Forsberg is another speedy Swede that provides plenty of scoring pop.
He’s potted 14 goals and handed out eight assists in 26 games this season. The former All-Rookie selection in 2014-15 is other winger on that dangerous top line.
Kevin Fiala has stepped onto the top line, but replacing Forsberg is a tall order. His return will make a great holiday present.
Forsberg, Arvidsson and Subban aren’t the only injuries that the team dealt with this season. Kyle Turris, Pekka Rinne and Hamhuis have missed portions of the season. Nashville had $19 million of talent on the injured list at one point.
However, this opened opportunities for secondary players. Hartman has been fantastic and is now on the top line with Johansen and Fiala. He already has nine goals this season after netting 11 in 2017-18. Colton Sissons and others have also stepped up with all these injuries.
Nashville may have lost the Central Division lead to the Winnipeg Jets, but it could be worse. The Predators have treaded water with all of these injuries and that’s the best anyone could ask for in this situation.
What it Means for the Future
Championship-level clubs deal with adversity on their way to winning a title. It would be very easy for Nashville buckle and go into a funk. However, they haven’t and are staying close with Winnipeg and the Colorado Avalanche in the tough Central Division.
It’s not been all sunshine as there have been losses to the Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa. However, injuries can often change the odds of a game.
All three returns will likely help the Predators have all the tools they need to defend their division crown. Nashville likely be at full strength at the halfway-point barring any more setbacks.
NASHVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 27: Viktor Arvidsson #33 of the Nashville Predators plays against the Edmonton Oilers at Bridgestone Arena on October 27, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)