The Nashville Predators’ first line is one of the most deadly in the league. Right winger Viktor Arvidsson, center Ryan Johansen, and left winger Filip Forsberg have lived up to the expectations for the last two years. The three led Nashville in points in the 2017-2018 playoffs.
Arvidsson is clearly the spark plug of the first line; he is always in front of the net, and finds ways to create breakaway chances. Johansen finds ways to get the puck to teammates; his assists tallies have been respectable ever since joining the Predators in 2015. Forsberg is unstoppable when he gets hot, emphasis on when. He’s a streaky player whose numbers fluctuate month-to-month.
However, have Forsberg and Johansen played to their full potential yet?
Jotting About Johansen
In 2013, Johansen found the back of the net 33 times for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He hasn’t touched 30 goals since. That being said, he’s finding ways to get the puck to his teammates. His assist total in 2017 was 47, and 39 in 2018. Johansen hasn’t lost his scoring ability: he beat Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck twice in Game 2 of the second round in the playoffs last year.
If Johansen shoots more, the Predators will have more success. It’s as plain as white bread.
Focus on Forsberg
Forsberg has led the Predators in points in both the regular season and playoffs for two consecutive years. He missed a chunk of the 2017-2018 regular season because of suspension and injury, yet still put up 64 points. Forsberg dominates when he is playing his best hockey.
So why does it feel like he has more to show?
Forsberg has scored 25 or more goals during the past four seasons. He is not a selfish player–his number of assists rivals Johansen and defenseman P.K. Subban, who led the club last year. The only issue comes from a lack of consistent goal scoring. He’s a streaky player. Nashville fans wait for Forsberg’s breakout season where he streaks from the first game on. He may do that: Forsberg got his first of the year in Thursday’s 3-2 win over the Rangers.
If Forsberg plays like this throughout 82 games and beyond, Nashville fans will like what they see their star Swedish forward.
If all three forwards on that line score, the Predators should continue their dominance this year.
Cover Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA Jack Woods covers the Nashville Predators and the NHL for Full Press Coverage.
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