Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
We'll wrap up our quarterly review of the Nashville Predators with the wingers, a wide collection of forwards who are tasked with either leading the attack on enemy nets or matching up against the other team's scorers to shut them down.
For details on the advanced stats appearing in the boxes below, consult last night's post on the defense & goaltending.
Gabby was one of the guys we were most excited to see this season, but so far I'm not sure that we've seen the real deal yet. The other day on 102.5 The Game I heard Stu Grimson saying that Bourque isn't playing at 100%, so perhaps there's room to cut him some slack, but so far, the results have been uneven. Against the Kings last Thursday he attacked the offensive zone like a whirlwind, but games like that have been infrequent at best. One positive has been his contributions to the PK effort, averaging a minute per game without having given up a goal yet.
I'm just not sure what we're supposed to make of Rich Clune. Is he McGrattan Light, Tootoo 2.0, or Hordichuk Classic? I admire his effort level and congratulate him on scoring his first career NHL goal in the St. Louis win, but I just don't see the value he brings to this team.
This is what a top-line winger is supposed to do - drive the flow of the game, battle the other team's top players, and lead the way offensively, both in even strength and on the power play. He missed a couple games due to injury, something which has always been an issue over the course of his career, but so far it looks like another productive season for Erat.
How the mighty have fallen. Beloved of many fans for his "Hustlechuk" attitude, Halischuk hasn't played since February 2nd against San Jose. Even when he dresses he gets less than 11 minutes a night, with and against Bottom Six material. Pretty much a non-factor so far.
In just 5 games this season before suffering a knee injury in Anaheim, Hornqvist fired 16 shots on goal. Now that the team has played 12 games, only Fisher (22) and Erat (17) have passed him among the team's forwards. Get well soon, Horn Dog (and maybe get yourself a new t-shirt to work out in during your recovery).
Oh, Sergei. What will it take for you to shoot the puck? 12 games and 9 shots on goal is a losing combination for a winger who just signed a two-year contract for $3 million per season. While puck-possession at even strength has been a positive, he's not exactly lighting the world on fire on either side of the special teams battle. The lack of offensive assertiveness is especially damaging given this team's need for scoring.
With only two games played and 6:17 of ice time per contest, it's hard to say anything substantive about McGrattan's performance so far.
Oh Honey Badger, Where Art Thou? While the skating is still there, the puck handling and confidence appear to have gone out of Smith's game for the time being, to the detriment of the team. He's not firing the puck, and he's also the only guy with significant power play time (11 games and 1:38 of PP time per night) who hasn't been on the ice for a PP goal.
Wilson is the one young winger who has stepped to deliver the goods so far. On many nights he has been Nashville's most dangerous forward, and seems to be the only one with the confidence and the ability to challenge opposing defenseman and create scoring chances single-handedly. Here's to hoping the strong effort continues.