Could the Preds be on the verge of returning to true form?
The week of November 10th through November 17th was a rough one for the Predators as they saw two key players head to the Injury Reserve. Viktor Arvidsson and P.K. Subban both suffered injuries within three days of each other. One injury to a top player makes things difficult for a team in the highly physical and offensive Central division but losing a top forward in addition to a top defender can derail a season.
If you were to ask the citizens of Smashville to summarize the season so far, I guarantee you would hear the word “Injury” more than you wouldn’t, and that’s because, in addition to Arvi and Subban, the Preds have seen Pekka Rinne, Filip Forsberg, Nick Bonino, Yannick Weber, Colton Sissons, Kyle Turris, Matthias Ekholm and more miss time due to injuries or illness.
However, on Thursday, December 27, 2018, the Nashville Predators activated P.K. Subban and Viktor Arvidsson, and that’s more than good news as the Preds have lost their lead in the Central Division in part to losing four straight games as well as ten straight games not located in Bridgestone Arena.
Before their injuries, Arvidsson was a point a game player with eight goals and five assists in 13 games. Subban’s impact wasn’t quite a point per game, but having 12 points in 18 games is not a bad start to the year by any means, especially for a defenseman.
It doesn’t need to be said that these players are capable of bringing some reinforcement to the Preds offensive game, but something that is overlooked is the fact that, the mere presence of these players on the ice opens up opportunities for their linemates. This is especially true for a player like Arvidsson, who’s high motor forces mistakes often draws attention to his positioning on the ice, thus benefiting players like Filip Forsberg. Subban on the other hand mainly plays with Ekholm, but due to his hard shot, second chance opportunities are generated often for whoever is near the net to pick up the rebound.
Bubble size = Average Time on Ice for the player
Bubble Color = if the team is outshooting the opponent while that player is on the ice (orange means they are, blue means they are not)
Horizontal Position = What percentage of starts take place in the offensive zone
Vertical position = difficulty of opponents
As seen in the chart above, Arvidsson is used the most in the offensive zone and plays against the best players more often than anyone else on the team. With that in mind, Ariv’s level of production is more impressive than any team expected it would be when he was picked 112th overall. Also, notably on the chart, is Subban’s spot. Subban starts in the Defensive zone as much as he starts in the offensive zone but is still able to help the Predators dominate shots while he is on the ice, meaning he helps the team get set up offensively regardless of where they start on the ice, and that is due to his skating ability, and his ability to consistently make good decisions on the ice (even though there are a few questionable ones).
An important stat to keep in mind is that before November 10th the Preds were outscoring their opponents 51 to 31, but since November 10th, opposing teams have outscored the Preds by one goal with the numbers being 65-64 respectively. That may not seem like a lot since it’s just one goal, but the net scoring went from a positive 20 to a negative one. That happened after Viktor Arvidsson and P.K. Subban got hurt.
In summation, the return of Subban, and Arvidsson could be the spark that the Preds need in order to jump-start their offense and start adding marks to the win column and take back the first-place position in the Central Division from the Winnipeg Jets who have a four-point lead, but also it will help the Preds chances of falling even further to the Colorado Avalanche who are just two points behind Nashville. The main things these three teams have in common…. Elite Offensive firepower.