During their first round series with the Anaheim Ducks, the Nashville Predators didn't make any lineup changes for any reason but injury, despite having multiple options available at the forward position.
After laying an egg at both ends of the ice last night against the Vancouver Canucks, however (which was arguably their worst performance of the playoffs), it may be time to take a look at some of the options lying in reserve - specifically second year forward Colin Wilson.
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For much of last night, the Predators failed to generate anything at all offensively, and finished with just 20 shots on Roberto Luongo. Luongo's a Vezina Trophy finalist for a reason, and will rarely have trouble with such a light workload.
Despite all of his defensive faults, Colin Wilson has the ability to work magic in the offensive zone. He possesses basically everything you'd want in a power forward - size, strength, shot, stickhandling, and the ability to make the superb pass. He received limited time on ice in the regular season due to continually taking defensive zone siestas, yet still managed 16 goals and 18 assists.
The Nashville Predators have a glut of defensively responsible forwards. Nick Spaling, Jerred Smithson, Jordin Tootoo, Joel Ward, Martin Erat, David Legwand, Mike Fisher, and Sergei Kostitsyn are all more than capable of handling themselves defensively, so I wonder why, at this point, Barry Trotz is leaving one of his most dangerous weapons in the press box at a time when, against the league's best defensive team, goals will be at a premium.
Here's the bottom line: the Predators can afford to take Matt Halischuk out of the lineup. He hustles, certainly, but his true contributions are negligible at best. Colin Wilson's upside is far greater, and even in a limited role Willy has shown that he can change a game in an instant.
Wilson is very likely to be angered and motivated by playing 82 regular season games, then promptly being a healthy scratch for the postseason's first seven. That can only be a good thing.
What do you think? Is it time for Barry Trotz to pull the mothballs off the former first round pick and Hobey Baker finalist, or should the Predators continue with the lineup that got them this far?