With the Nashville Predators nursing some major injuries, certain players have had to increase their workload over the last few weeks. While some players have struggled to handle their increased roles, the same cannot be said of team captain Roman Josi.

Since P.K. Subban went on injured reserve on November 15th, the Predators have played 12 games. Roman Josi, of course, has played in all 12 games. Compared to his first 18 games, Josi’s recent performance shows a veteran leading by example.

Roman Josi Nashville Predators
A comparison of Josi’s last 12 games with his first 18. Statistics via Natural Stat Trick.

Josi has increased his on-ice production, in some cases quite significantly, over the last 12 games compared to the first 18. Despite handling more minutes and getting considerably less favorable bounces (his individual PDO sits at around a .910 over the last 12 games compared to over 1.000 in his first 18 games), he has been even better recently from an on-ice production standpoint.

He’s also been better from a point production standpoint, with 10 points in his last 12 games. It’s worth pointing out Josi has been getting more offensive zone starts with Subban out of the lineup, which could explain the increased point production. But while the Predators have only gone 6-6-0 with Subban out of the lineuip, it would be hard to say that Josi was a reason for the team’s poor results on the ice.

The bottom line is that Roman Josi has stepped up his game recently. If the Predators are going to dig out of the recent funk they are in, the team is going to need that to continue.

5 Quick Thoughts

  1. Calle Jarnkrok and Nick Bonino are not great examples of center depth, though the Preds say otherwise. Bonino (11 points) simply isn’t playing up to expectations, given his cap hit ($4 million) and Jarnkrok (10 points) is versatile, but only moderately effective in a top six role.
  2. There’s no doubt about it: Juuse Saros is struggling. In his last five games, he’s got an .819 save percentage and given up four or more goals in four of those five games. Ouch.
  3. Viktor Arvidsson is still tied for 2nd in goals on the Preds. He hasn’t played since November 10th.
  4. Frederick Gaudreau had an atrocious turnover that led to a Flames goal last night. He has done nothing to prove he belongs in the lineup and that might have been the final straw. Don’t be surprised if he gets demoted in favor of someone like Anthony Richard (who debuted last week) or Emil Pettersson.
  5. The Preds have three very beatable teams coming into Bridgestone this week. They need to get at least 5 out of 6 points this week.

GIF Me That Good Stuff

The rest of the game was terrible, but this pass by Josi to Sissons was perfect.

Let’s Do That Hockey

Tuesday 12/11 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Senators [FS-TN]

Thursday 12/13 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Canucks [FS-TN]

Saturday 12/15 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Devils [FS-TN]

Final Thought

Late last week, David Poile went on local radio and suggested that a “couple” of the Preds big injuries could return this week against Ottawa. Judging by the context, it appears as if he was talking about P.K. Subban and Kyle Turris.

This would be huge news for the Preds. After back to back wins over the Blackhawks and Sabres, the team looked pretty rough the next two games. The Canucks and Flames rolled to pretty easy wins over the Preds on Thursday and Saturday.

In short, the Preds depth has been tested and so far it hasn’t passed.

Given that Poile’s comments were less vague than usual, and given that we know Arvidsson and Forsberg are still weeks away from returning, it seems reasonable to expect both Turris and Subban are near return. I would say, based on skating reports from practices, Subban seems most likely to return first.

P.K. Subban Nashville Predators
P.K. Subban has 12 points in 18 games this season. Image via Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports.

Getting Subban back would be great for the defense. While Dan Hamhuis and Mattias Ekholm have been fine, getting Subban back supplants either Matt Irwin or Anthony Bitetto from the bottom pair. Hamhuis would slot back in on the 3rd pair, and the top four can go back to being the force we know it can be.

If the Preds can get Subban and Turris back however, things change at both ends of the ice. As I mentioned earlier, Jarnkrok and Bonino have been poor replacements at 2nd line center. Turris in on the 2nd line means guys like Smith and Fiala have a playmaking center again. It also takes pressure off of Ryan Johansen, who has been struggling recently.

The Predators are in a serious funk right now, but the good thing is that we know why. Any team that loses two top six forwards, a 2nd line center, and a Norris defenseman is going to struggle. When the Preds finally get healthy again, expect similar results from what we saw earlier in the year

— Stats via Natural Stat Trick and Hockey-Reference. Featured image via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports —

 

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