2018-2019 Player Reviews: Filip Forsberg

Gonna take our Fors to the Old Town Road

Our little baby Scoresberg is growing up... *sniffs*

He just turned 25, but it seems like #9 has been here for a decade now, hasn’t it? He’s fully transformed from up-and-coming prospect into the leader of the offense. The Preds’ best chance of scoring usually happens when he, Arvidsson, and Johansen are on the ice together.  Which...I guess could either be a really good or really bad thing, depending on how you look at things.

That being said, I can’t tell if this season was a step forward or backward from last season...

Season Overview

Forsberg played in 64 games, finishing  with28 goals and 22 assists for a total of 50 points—third on the team behind Johansen (64) and Josi (56). That’s a 14-point drop from his 2018 total, despite playing in just three fewer games. However, he scored two more goals than he did in 2018 as well.

My boy Bryan Bastin (@projpatsummitt) put together these awesome report cards with a breakdown of all the stats for the year. The darker the green, the more “above average” the player was in that particular category. And as you can see, Forsberg had a whole lotta green.

The Positives

Forsberg still has a pure shooter’s touch, no question about it. His total rate of 1.41 goals per 60 minutes is good for second on the team behind his JoFA-mate, Viktor Arvidsson (who was actually best in the league in that category). And if it wasn’t for an injury that knocked him out for more than a month, it’s highly probable he would have topped his career high in goals (33, set back in ‘15-’16.)

Perhaps more importantly, he’s one of the best in the entire league at creating offensive chances.

The multi-colored blobs heat map above shows that when Forsberg was on the ice, the Preds were 30% better than the league average at creating chances to score at even strength. Analytics-wise, that’s an elite level (to put that in perspective, the Lightning were only 23% above average when Kucherov was on the ice...and yeah, I know there are lots of other factors that separate those two from a production standpoint...but it still shows JoFA is a dangerous forward combo.)

Compare that number to the Preds’ offense WITHOUT Forsberg on the ice.

Another big plus, and the top heat chart reflects that, has been Forsberg’s increased net-front presence. This year, more so than prior seasons, we’ve seen him use his size to get to the front of the net, which had led to more “dirty” second-chance goals like these against Dallas and St. Louis during the regular season.

We’ve seen plenty of highlight-reel goals from #9 over the years, whether it be from his dead-eye shot or his stick-handling sorcery (and SPOILERRRR ALERRRRRRT we’ll see more later in this review). But I love seeing the “boring” plays like these. Why? There’s a higher chance these go in. And over the past couple of seasons, we’ve seen Forsberg gain the awareness to consistently make plays like these.

The Negatives

Remember in school there was always that one group project that was such a trainwreck, even the valedictorian couldn’t fix it, and then spent the rest of sixth period crying in a bathroom stall because the bad grade might hurt their chances of getting into an Ivy League School?

Let’s talk about the Predators’ power play.

To be clear, I’m NOT blaming this all on Forsberg. In fact, he led the team with seven power play goals in last year’s dumpster fire of a special teams campaign.

Still, the drop in production is jarring.

Filip Forsberg Power Play Statistics

SeasonTOITotal PPGG_60ixG_60Shooting%

I mean, Filip Forsberg was probably not going to keep scoring one of every 4 power play shots he took. But the bigger concern is in the expected goals column (the little ixG_60 thing). That’s not just a drop from last season, it’s his lowest total in the past four seasons, including the year he only managed three goals. That tells me Forsberg’s not just converting fewer chances, he’s getting fewer to begin with.

“Consistency” also seems to be a demon Forsberg can’t shake. He started the season with 10 goals and 14 points in his first 11 games, followed that up with just one assist in his next six games, then had a decent seven-point run in the next nine games before going down with an injury. He finished the season with just 10 goals in his last 34.

You could probably pin some of that on the team’s overall power play struggles, and some chemistry hiccups caused by Arvidsson’s similar injury issues this season. But it’s not the first time we’ve talked about Forsberg’s “streakiness.” It’s frustrating because HE’S SO GOOD at so many aspects of the game, and if those hills and valleys ever level out, he’s a 60-70 point scorer this season...even after missing 18 games.

Best Moment

It’s Filip Forsberg, so he’s got a few.

October 27th against Edmonton...Forsberg was already scoring at a wild pace, with 11 points in 10 games.  His hat trick here was his magnum opus in an epic October.

Forsberg scored his first in the second period, burying a great feed from Johansen off a one-timer from the faceoff circle. In the 3rd, 92 and 9 would hook up again for another great play that found Forsberg alone in front of the net for goal #2. Then with five minutes left, Forsberg capped off a great passing sequence from Subban and...yup...Johansen again to cap off the hat trick.

His next one came a few months later, January 9th against Chicago. It was Forsberg’s second game back in the lineup after missing more than a month. He’d get his first goal (and point) since the injury in the second period to put the Preds up 3-1. But in overtime.... dear sweet mama. He beats Toews one-on-one with a physical play on the boards, then drives all the way to the net, roofing the game-winning goal over Colin Delia’s left shoulder.

Welcome back indeed.

And just for giggles, let’s admire this beauty one more time.

Everything about this play is just peachy. Arvy deking Martinook out of his skates...Forsberg collecting the rebound despite being sandwiched by two Hurricanes...the cheeky between-the-legs finish...

Brb injecting this video clip straight into my veins.

Worst Moment

It’s been mentioned in the review before, but that dreaded “upper-body injury” at the end of November was a big downer. The injury cost him 18 games (including the entire month of December). Not only was he the Preds’ leading scorer at the time, but as we highlighted earlier, he had started to regain his scoring touch after a slump at the start of November.

It’s the second straight season in which Forsberg’s missed significant time with an injury, and it really is a daggum shame. I look at his progression, the big leap Arvy took last year, and a better season from Johansen, and you start to wonder what this group’s ceiling could be if they can get a full 78-82 games together.

And... *sigh*... we also have to bring up the playoffs again. To be fair, there weren’t many Preds who DID have a good series against Dallas. But considering Forsberg had 16 playoff points in 13 games the year prior, we had higher expectations for him personally.

Not only was his two-point statline disappointing, but Forsberg struggled to control the puck, which led to chances like this Stars goal in Game 6.

Stupid playoffs.

But again, Forsberg just turned 25. His prime years are still ahead of him. Even though it’s tough to reflect on this year wanting more, there’s absolutely no cause for alarm regarding his development. If he’s healthy, and if the Preds can somehow fix their power play woes, Forsberg is a 40-goal threat.

It’ll be interesting to see who he’s paired with to start the year. Shaun and Bryan did an excellent breakdown of how well the JoFA line plays together. But with the addition of Matt Duchene, there’s been more chatter of shuffling the top six and trying some different line combinations.

Until we find out, let’s just keep watching this play on repeat.

Final Grade: B+

The rough stretch the end the season is what knocks him out of the A column. I’m going to predict he gets back there next season.

Your turn to weigh in.

How would you grade Filip Forsberg’s season?