|(Photo by: Nashville Predators)|
Something wasn’t getting through the coaching staff’s head at the start of the third period down 1-0 against the St. Louis Blues. There was little offensive production and a mere ten shots on goal after forty minutes. The Nashville Predators were facing their second shutout loss in the three games.
In his career, head coach Barry Trotz has changed up the lines mid-game when scoring has been mute. However, during these past few games where the offense has been absent, Trotz has stuck with his gut.
The line combinations were as follows:
Taylor Beck-David Legwand-Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitysn-Nick Spaling-Matt Halischuk
Rich Clune-Austin Watson-Craig Smith
Daniel Bang-Chris Mueller-Bobby Butler
Due to injuries up front, the Predators have been forced call up Milwaukee forwards Daniel Bang, Austin Watson and Chris Mueller to come and replace the unhealthy. As expect, they weren’t prepared to for the NHL-game, but are quickly learning as the games go by.
These are certainly not the lines the coaching staff wanted when pushing for a playoff spot. However, Trotz, Horachek and Lambert have to adapt to the unfortunate circumstances and create a line that can generate goals.
When Bobby Butler has stepped into the lineup, he has seemed to generate scoring chances and put pucks on net—something the Preds needed against the Blues Tuesday night and the Blackhawks Saturday. Barry Trotz needs to reward the mid-season waiver wire pick up by moving him up to a better line in an attempt to generate goals.
Craig Smith is not on the correct line either. The sophomore is currently with rookie Austin Watson and enforcer Rich Clune. The line is a combination of all three different aspects of the game. Yes, you could make an argument that that is the genius of that line, but it hasn’t worked yet.
Lastly, since there are three players in the current lineup that spent a majority of their time this season in Milwaukee, why not make Watson, Mueller and Bang a line? This allows the three to be more comfortable at a big stage in their careers.
“It’s nice coming in here, being familiar with some guys that were [in Milwaukee] the whole year,” said Watson in an interview Sunday after his debut. “With Beck, Mueller and Bartley, it is nice to feel a little bit comfortable coming in.”
There needs to be line reform up front in an attempt to put goals on the board Friday against the Stars and for the remainder of the season. Here is what I’ve come up with that could help the Predators.
Patric Hornqvist-David Legwand-Bobby Butler
Sergei Kostitsyn-Craig Smith-Taylor Beck
Matt Halischuk-Nick Spaling-Rich Clune
Daniel Bang-Chris Mueller-Austin Watson
Call it a “test experiment”, but this is certainly something that could work. The only flaw could be the lack of chemistry with the second line, but at this point, they have nothing to lose.
Sure the Beck, Legwand and Hornqvist line have produced—in the past, but when matched up against an opponent’s top defensemen, they have been easily shut down.
Nashville needs to make a change offensively soon before the season is over in order to go out on a high note.