|(Mark Humphrey/AP Photo)|
Plain out and bluntly, the offense was horrible this season. Injuries, lack of true scoring talent and a shortened season are all factors of a poor offensive showing. Usually in a full 82 game season, the Nashville Predators start to gel and grow as players around the mid-way point. However, there was no room for error and the Predators couldn’t handle the pressure.
Let’s look at some disappointing offensive stats of the Predators’ 2012-13 season:
- Finished last in scoring with 109 goals—2.27 per game
- Was last in shots for with an average of 25.9 per game
- Went from first in the NHL on the power play to seventeenth with a 17.1% conversion rate
- Winless when trailing after the first period
- Won only five games when giving up the first goal
Head Coach Barry Trotz addressed the team’s need in getting back to gritty hockey and they will look for someone during the summer to fill that role. General Manager David Poile mentioned he would shop around to find a replacement for former-Pred Martin Erat as well.
Colin Wilson was the most valuable player on the team this season, though only playing in 25 games. The 23 year old average 0.76 points per game and could be on his way to averaging a full point per game. His scoring abilities showed throughout his season by using his big body and speed to beat players to pucks. Hopefully Wilson can stay healthy next year because Nashville will certainly need him.
Currently running to be on the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 14, Mike Fisher had an impressive year. Along with Wilson, Fisher was banged up a portion of the season as well. When Fisher returned to the lineup, he did so like he was never really injured. Fisher was out ten games of the season, but managed to be third on the Predators’ scoring list. Before a hand injury took him out for a three games in the final month of the season, Fisher was holding on to an eight game point streak.
David Legwand finished first in scoring at the forward position with 25 points (12g, 13a) in 48 games. However, his defensive play was worse than last year. If a player like Legwand isn’t a big name scorer, he has to be well defensively by having a positive +/-. On a positive note, Legwand hit a milestone this season by reaching 200 goals in his NHL career.
Sergei Kositsyn is something else. So often the Belarusian will turn his back to a golden scoring chance and pass to a covered teammate, thus ruining the scoring opportunity. With the ice time he received, he essentially finished last in shots, which is not surprising. As a top six forward, Kostitsyn heavily under-produced for his team by scoring only three goals while playing in 46 games. The biggest breakdown from Kostitsyn was March 17 in Edmonton, where he gave up on a play, which led to a goal. This boneheaded move put him in Trotz’s dog house and was never fully out by the season ended.
Gabriel Bourque turned a lot of people’s heads this season. Many knew he was good, but not this good. The best word to describe him is pesky. Bourque is a quick forward who plays hockey the “Predator way”. His breakout season allowed him to play on the second line as a wing to Legwand and Hornqvist. But because of an injury that required surgery after a hit from Dan Carcillo in the final month of the season, Bourque was unable to get a full season under his belt once more.
The compete level of Patric Hornqvist showed throughout the season. During the horrible month of April, he always blamed their loss on himself and his teammates. Though he received countless muggings in front of the net, Hornqvist continued to create traffic in front of the net. His season was shortened due to injuries and was only able to play half of the games on the schedule.
The newest Predator is Filip Forsberg, who was unable to put the biscuit in the basket during the five games he dressed in. Forsberg was able to show his skill and potential to the Predators fans and management. Poile pushed hard for the Swede to get a taste of the NHL in the final weeks and somehow persuaded him to come to North America. Certainly Forsberg will be a number one scorer for Nashville in years to come.
Whenever Nick Spaling scored, the Predators usually won—when healthy. Before the injuries piled up, Nashville went 3-1-0 when Spaling put the puck in the net. Spaling does his job well on the third line—killing penalties and wearing down the opponents. Every season, he improves and the Preds would love to own a solid third line winger/center.
The breakout player of the year in Nashville was Taylor Beck, who was recalled during the Preds’ injury situation. Beck showed he was ready for the NHL this season. His speed, creativity and scoring ability was present in the sixteen games with the club. The expectations are high for him next season as a rookie.
Going into the season, Rich Clune was expected to fill the role of Jordin Tootoo by playing physically and occasionally dropping the gloves. At first, he was hated by everyone leaving fans puzzled on why Poile signed this nobody because he lost numerous fights. However, as the season progressed, Clune showed he could not only play gritty hockey, but also score goals and generate offense. This season, Clune scored his first NHL goal and totaled four at the end of the season. “Dickey” is now loved by everyone in the locker room and in the city of Nashville.
Craig Smith had his second consecutive statistical slump after a promising rookie season. Disappointingly, Smith tallied only four goals as a “scoring forward” and left some questioning his real ability. Smith has it in him, but he will have to start performing in order to see success in Nashville.
When receiving ice time, Bobby Butler performed for Trotz on the fourth line. Butler was picked up off waivers mid-season from the Devils just to take a look at his ability and possibly bolster up the offense. In 20 games, Butler scored three goals and had six assists, though most of his points came towards the end of the season. Hopefully Butler is re-signed because he could be a hidden gem for Poile and the Predators.
Matt Halischuk was an effective bottom six forward throughout the season. His pressure on the forecheck was incredible and never said quit on the puck. Many of the goals Halischuk scored came from hard work down low and the occasional wrap-around try. Will is better than skill and that is the motto Halischuk is most likely living by.
Brandon Yip just seems to be there. He doesn’t have future in this organization except to put 18 men on the ice. Yip is a hard worker, but shouldn’t be what the Predators are looking for in their bottom six. It is likely his career in Nashville will be over this summer as he could hit the Free Agent market in July.
Along with other injured Preds, Paul Gaustad saw his season end due to shoulder surgery. Gaustad is a perfect forward for Nashville to fill the needs of winning face-offs, size and physicality. His multi-million dollar deal must be used for something, and he has done all three things since he stepped on the ice in a gold jersey.
When Gaustad was injured, it was Chris Mueller who stepped up in the face-off dot. Mueller was on recall from Milwaukee and played in 18 games. After his impressive NHL stint, it is possible he is looked at by a few NHL teams. He becomes an unrestricted free agent in July and could see his career in the Predators’ organization end.