After last night’s 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings, the Nashville Predators were in a good mood in the locker room. Pekka Rinne talked about how important it was to get back to back wins, Kyle Turris talked about finally feeling 100%, and Roman Josi praised Viktor Arvidsson’s passing ability.
But then a comment from Peter Laviolette sent puzzled looks throughout the post-game presser.
When prompted by The Athletic’s John Glennon about the forward line changes made ahead of the game, Laviolette said the following:
“Part of it is we’re dealing with some stuff inside the room. It was an opportunity to look at that tonight for me. I thought it would give Kevin Fiala a chance up with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg. I thought that moving Viktor Arvidsson down there was just some lines that we haven’t tried. We’re just trying to see what those combinations might be able to do.”
Laviolette on changing the forward lines tonight: “We’re dealing with some stuff inside the room” so they wanted to switch some things around. #Preds
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) February 22, 2019
Laviolette went on to explain that he liked what he saw out of both lines, but the comment of note is the one I’ve bolded. “We’re dealing with some stuff inside the room.”
What could this mean? Speculation began to fly.
Some believed it was a reference to an illness that may be going around. This could be a possibility, except for one major flaw: this would not explain the reason for making line changes. This would only explain if there were guys held out of the lineup. As it is, Craig Smith was the only regular who didn’t play, and he was added to injured reserve for an undisclosed injury.
Why would you change lines around if players were ill? That doesn’t make any sense.
Others believed it could be internal strife. Could there be a growing rift among some forwards? Either based on resentment for getting playing time with more skilled forwards or simply a result of frustration of not producing?
One theory is that there’s something going on with Kevin Fiala.
Laviolette moved Arvidsson off the top line for the first time in a while, putting him with Kyle Turris and Calle Jarnkrok and putting Kevin Fiala on a line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg. It’s worth noting that Arvidsson-Jarnkrok-Turris had played together only 3:03 combined minutes ever before last night.
That switch appears to be more “getting Fiala going” than “trying some new things.”
Then there was that recent dust up at practice between Fiala and Arvidsson. There’s no video footage of the incident (at least none that I could find) and it doesn’t sound like it was much, but apparently Arvidsson took Fiala hard into the boards and Fiala took exception.
It’s practice and sometimes these things happen… but could resentment be growing there?
Another interesting fact: the Predators are practicing on Friday in two different groups. This isn’t usually something you see during the regular season. This could be something they had already planned, but the timing is curious. If Arvidsson and Fiala are in separate practices, that’s more evidence for a “locker room disagreement” theory.
More than likely this is a very innocent issue and one that will be forgotten in a week. But if there is something actually “going on in the locker room” perhaps it could be resolved with a trade?
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —