Fluidity of line combinations
Here's a question: has anyone considered that switching the line combinations every game could be damaging Nashville's offense? Changing lines isn't a bad thing when you're trying to turn things around in your lineup, however when it's becoming an every game thing you have to wonder how it affects team chemistry.
James Neal has gone from first line winger, to second line winger, to third line winger and back to first line winger in just a handful of days. The same with Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Mike Ribeiro, Calle Jarnkrok, you name it. Outside of players like Eric Nystrom and Paul Gaustad, the entire lineup has been subjected to random line shuffling.
Peter Laviolette has been a very good coach so far for Nashville, however when you compare the way he's handled the roster this season to the coaching style of Barry Trotz it's easily the difference between night and day.
There were times when Trotz wouldn't adjust the roster for months, noting that sometimes it takes time for players to gel with each other before producing results. Laviolette, on the other hand, takes a much different approach in flipping things around when lines don't seem to be working.
"Typically, it usually depends on how your team's rolling -- whether you're winning games or losing games, whether there's chemistry with the lines or whether the lines are producing. A lot of the lines have been together now for a few games. There was a couple things we've been dealing with internally that we had to make one change tonight. I think the lines have produced a lot of opportunity, just not the results we're looking for."
Maybe Laviolette has a point. The line of Filip Forsberg, Ribeiro and Smith has been consistent for the last handful of games. Nashville has produced plenty of opportunities, just unable to bury them.
I'll leave these three tweets from The Tennessean's Adam Vingan here to detail my point. The only relatively safe lines are the first and fourth.
Predators lines vs. WPG: Forsberg-Ribeiro-Smith Arvidsson-Fisher-Hodgson Wilson-Jarnkrok-Neal Nystrom-Gaustad-Salomaki— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) January 6, 2016
Predators AM lines vs. CAR (I believe): Forsberg-Ribeiro-Smith Arvidsson-Fisher-Neal Wilson-Jarnkrok-Hodgson Nystrom-Gaustad-Salomaki— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) January 2, 2016
Predators AM lines vs. DAL: Forsberg-Ribeiro-Smith Wilson-Fisher-Arvidsson Salomaki-Jarnkrok-Neal Nystrom-Gaustad-Watson— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) December 31, 2015
At the current pace I'm writing about it, the subject of Nashville's shot totals will be at least one of my topics every single game.
Again, the Predators outshot their opponent like a toddler trying to play Duck Hunt. The final total sitting at 44-18 in favor of the Preds, Nashville easily has the ability to put shots on net.
The problem, however, is the clear quality of shots that the Predators are taking. The age old adage of "quality over quantity" really comes into play here. Not only is Nashville taking plenty of shots from the outer edges of the offensive zone -- the boards and blue line, namely -- but the majority of them are square into the logo of the goaltender.
You can't really score a goal when you directing a puck into the chest of the player standing in between you and the net, that much I'm certain about.
Until the Predators start channeling a little consistency in terms of slot pressure and better shot angles, or maybe trading for a player that can do something like that, they will continue to flounder.
Which leads me to my final point...
It's time to make a trade
I've continually advocated for the Predators to find themselves a top elite center to boost their offensive punch through the remainder of the season and, subsequently, provide them with the one tool they've been missing in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.
After an ugly 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night, it further exemplifies why Nashville needs to make a move and do it now.
It wasn't just a matter of the Predators out-shooting Winnipeg by 26. It wasn't just the quality of shots taken. It wasn't just about the goals that Pekka Rinne allowed. It's a culmination of every small issue that have turned Nashville from a contender to a pretender in the short span of a month.
If David Poile didn't feel like his team had a goal-scoring problem at the beginning of the season, there's no way he can ignore it now.
With some of the options available on the market, there's no reason that Poile shouldn't make a move, either. The biggest dilemma, though? Breaking up Nashville's world-caliber defensive unit.
In reality, only two pieces of that particular puzzle are going to bring back the pieces that Nashville needs in return: Seth Jones or Shea Weber. Take your pick, but one will have to depart for the Predators to gain offensive strength via a trade.
So who do you trade? The captain or the 20-year old defenseman?
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets -- A fantastic night for Hellebuyck, stopping 43 of 44 Nashville shots to earn a very important win for the Jets and keep them within reaching distance of the top teams in the Central Division.
Drew Stafford, Winnipeg Jets -- His two goals paced Winnipeg on route to its 4-1 win over the Predators. The second of the two coming off a beautiful tip on a shot that was clearly going high above Rinne
Colin Wilson, Nashville Predators -- Giving credit where credit is due, Wilson had a phenomenal game. He was all over the ice and was finally awarded a goal for his efforts towards the waning minutes of the third period.