Viktor Arvidsson missed 24 games for the Nashville Predators earlier this year, almost 30% of the entire regular season.

But with 25 goals so far, you never would have guessed.

Viktor Arvidsson’s goal scoring this year has been as incredible to watch as it has been unsurprising. For four years now, we’ve grown used to seeing Arvidsson’s energy and speed on the ice. When Preds fans tune in watch their team, even despite the recent slump by the team, they notice Arvidsson almost immediately.

And this year, despite the thumb injury suffered against the Dallas Stars on November 10th, Arvidsson has been even more noticeable.

Goal Scoring Machine

Arvidsson has always been a formidable goal scorer for the Preds. His 92 goals since 2015 ranks second on the team behind Filip Forsberg’s 110. But this year there seems to be something even more dangerous about his game.

After Sunday’s two-goal effort against the Blues, Arvidsson mentioned one way he’s increased his goal scoring this year.

“I try to be around the net as much as I can. I just have my stick down,” Arvidsson said, adding that he’d been the beneficiary of some “tap-in” goals recently.

His shooting is elite, his offensive presence is spectacular, and his work ethic is a sight to behold. While some players get criticized for “taking plays off” from time to time, you’ll never see Arvidsson accused of that.

He also knows it’s about working well with fellow linemates Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen.

“I just try to work hard and try to get the puck to Fil and Joey. Forsberg is making plays and Johansen is too.”

Tap-ins or not, putting the puck in the net is the name of the game. And Arvidsson has been playing that game as well as anyone, scoring goals this year at a pace far above that of any other forward in Nashville Predators history.

Here’s a look at the highest goals per game mark among all players with at least 30 games in a season for the Preds:

  1. Viktor Arvidsson (2018-19): 0.71
  2. Jason Arnott (2008-09): 0.51
  3. Filip Forsberg (2018-19): 0.48
  4. Steve Sullivan (2005-06): 0.45
  5. Jason Arnott (2006-07): 0.40

Arvidsson isn’t likely to maintain that 0.71 goals per game pace. If he did, he would finish with 40 goals, which would far exceed the Preds single season record of 33. Interestingly, Forsberg could also challenge for that record; he’s on pace to finish right at 33 goals this year, despite also missing time with an injury.

Not Just Goal Scoring, Either

When Arvidsson returned to the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 1st, Laviolette mentioned how important that was for the team at the time.

“You see how important he is out there tonight with his speed, and his work ethic, his ability to score goals and make a difference in the game.”

It’s that “difference in the game,” not just the goal scoring, that makes Arvidsson special. Everything he brings to the Preds offense makes him such a dangerous presence on the ice.

Arvidsson is the one you’ll see digging the puck out of the corner after a dump in, then fighting for possession behind the net, then getting the puck to a pinching blueliner and going to the front of the net for a deflection. He’s also the one you’ll see flying down the wing with the puck and firing a slap shot by the goalie, like he did on Tuesday against Detroit.

He can do it all, and he can do it better than most forwards in the NHL.

Among all forwards with at least 400 even strength minutes this year, Arvidsson ranks 5th in on-ice shot attempts generated per hour (72.2) among 335 qualifying players. A lot of that offense is because Arvidsson himself is looking to shoot often; he ranks 4th in individual shot attempts generated per hour (19.1).

But what if it’s all for naught?

A Wasted Season?

It would be a damn shame if the Preds couldn’t turn Arvidsson’s possible historic season into a successful one for the franchise.

While the Preds are still sitting in a comfortable playoff position, their play of late has been anything but comfortable. They’ve gone 5-4-1 in their last 10 games and have lost several key match-ups with divisional opponents. They also haven’t been winning at home the way Preds fans are used to, leading to a frustrated fan base.

The last few days have been rough for the Preds. They lost twice this past weekend to the Blues. Then they lost to the 2nd worst team in the league on Tuesday. It’s only a three game losing streak, but it feels much worse.

There’s a reason the recent losing streak feels worse than it actually is. The rest of the Central Division (except for Minnesota and Colorado) keeps winning. The trade deadline is coming up, and no one knows what David Poile is going to do. There’s growing expectation to win a Cup and win one now.

And now Viktor Arvidsson might be having the greatest single season ever for a Preds goal scorer and it might be ruined by a first or second round exit in the playoffs.

If that happens, you can bet the frustration by the fans will turn into real palpable anger. The kind of anger that makes people spend their money on other things instead of going to hockey games.

Of course, the fans aren’t there yet. And if Viktor Arvidsson has anything to say about it, they won’t be.

— Stats via Corsica Hockey. Featured image via Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports —

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