The Nashville Predators are weathering this injury storm with relative ease.

Considering that the Predators have been without Viktor Arvidsson, P.K. Subban, Filip Forsberg, and until recently Kyle Turris, their record over the last few weeks has not been as bad we thought it might be. Here’s the relative Preds’ record with each of those players out:

  • Without Arvidsson: 9-7-1
  • Without Subban: 9-6-0
  • Without Forsberg: 5-2-0
  • Without Turris: 6-4-0

Not many teams could be without those caliber players and still be winning more games than they lose. That’s a verifiable All-Star lineup on injured reserve and yet the Predators have managed to maintain their top spot in the Central Division.

The reason? Their depth.

Role players like Ryan Hartman, Austin Watson, Nick Bonino, Calle Jarnkrok, and Colton Sissons have all contributed regularly on the score sheet since November 10th (the day when Arvidsson first went on IR). Here’s a look at the top 10 goal scorers since then:

Nashville Predators Austin Watson Nick Bonino Ryan Hartman
Most of the top 10 scorers since November 10th are bottom six “role player” types. Chart via Natural Stat Trick.

I’ve pointed this out before, but it’s interesting that the team is still finding a way to make it happen. And now they’ve built a decent record behind this depth performance.

One player who has stepped up significantly is Ryan Hartman. Being forced into a top six role alongside Ryan Johansen, Hartman has excelled. He’s not only scoring more, he’s helping Johansen and Fiala generate chances at even strength. Take a look at some of his underlying numbers before and after November 10th:

  • Hartman before November 10th47.8 shot attempts share (CF%), 49.6 scoring chance share (SCF%) and 46.0 high danger chance share (HDCF%)
  • Hartman after November 10th: 57.7 shot attempts share (CF%), 55.4 scoring chance share (SCF%), and 48.9 high danger chance share (HDCF%)

Part of that increase is playing with more skilled players, but it says a lot about Hartman’s game that he can be plugged into the top line and succeed. He brings a mixture of speed, skill, and aggression that can only be described as Arvidsson-like. More on that below.

5 Quick Thoughts

  1. Though he only received one goal of support on Saturday, I thought Juuse Saros played very well. Looked very comfortable in net and stopped 33 saves.
  2. I think Ryan Johansen misses Filip Forsberg. 7 of his 21 assists this year have been on Forsberg goals.
  3. P.K. Subban is still out, but rumor is that the Preds are simply being extra precautionary. If he comes back soon and feels fine, a fresh Subban could do wonders for the Preds in the 2nd half of the seaosn.
  4. Look at Colton Sissons coming up big again with the OT winner on Thursday. He always finds a way, doesn’t he?
  5. In starting to look ahead at the trade deadline, don’t count out the Preds taking on some cap money in exchange for some rental help. They’ve got about $6 million to work with. That can go a long way.

GIF Me That Good Stuff

Ryan Johansen, this was disgusting.

Let’s Do That Hockey

Four road games before the Christmas break.

Monday 12/17 – 6:30 PM: Predators @ Senators [FS-TN]

Tuesday 12/18 – 7:30 PM: Predators @ Blackhawks [NBCSN]

Thursday 12/20 – 6:00 PM: Predators @ Flyers [FS-TN]

Saturday 12/22 – 12:00 PM: Predators @ Bruins [FS-TN]

Final Thought

The Predators have now been without Viktor Arvidsson for 20 games this season. The good news is that the Preds have finally found a temporary version of Arvidsson to play on the top line with Johansen: Ryan Hartman.

Ryan Hartman is not a replacement for Viktor Arvidsson, but he’s certainly shown he’s one of the better depth role players on this team, as I mentioned earlier. His aggression and speed are quite similar to Arvidsson and he brings a great deal of skill as well.

It’s something that Hartman says he tries to bring every night, regardless of where he’s at in the lineup.

“I haven’t really changed the way I play really,” Hartman said after Thursday’s overtime win over the Canucks. “Just try to be physical, get in on the puck, and make plays to my teammates. I don’t think anything really changes.”

While he may not be changing the way he plays, he’s getting better results on the ice as a top six forward. He’s also been used a bit differently, playing more on the power play than he did when Arvidsson and Forsberg were around. He’s even started adopting Arvidsson’s “jump-screen” on occasion while on the power play.

I noticed it during one of the power plays on Thursday. Hartman sets up right in front of goalie Anders Nilsson and jumps into the puck as it gets shot towards the net from the blueline. It’s something Arvidsson has done frequently in his career.

For the top line to work, Ryan Johansen needs guys that create traffic, play aggressive, and shoot the puck as often as possible. Obviously, Arvidsson and Forsberg are the best two options for him. But as long as those guys are out of the lineup, Ryan Hartman isn’t a bad substitute.

— Stats via Natural Stat Trick and Hockey-Reference. Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports. —
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