Although they keep winning games, Nashville’s 1.77 goals per game average ranks 30th in the entire NHL. If they wish for their success to continue, more offense may be helpful – most notably from the top line.
Through 13 games, Mike Fisher has just one goal and three points. Sergei Kostitsyn has the same stat line. Martin Erat does have seven points on the season, but he has not found the scoresheet in the last four games.
“We haven’t played as well as we’d like to – no question,” Fisher said of his line. “We feel that if we get a couple then we’ll be a little more confident and the goals will start to come. There are a few areas where we feel like we can be better, but we’ll get there.”
Fisher’s slump hasn’t been for a lack of chances. In the last three games he has racked up eight shots, and he’s had some prime scoring chances in those contests. Head coach Barry Trotz feels it’s just a matter of time before Fisher gets going.
“He’s been getting some really good opportunities. It’s when you’re not getting opportunities that you start to deviate from the game. He’s starting to get some opportunities. One will hit the back of the net sooner or later,” Trotz said.
Last season Fisher scored 24 goals, seven were of the game-winning variety (a career high). He was also a key part of the Predators’ top-ranked power play. Right now he is on pace for four goals in 2012-13. That pace certainly won’t continue, but Fisher doesn’t care if he scores goals or not – as long as the team keeps climbing up the standings.
“I don’t feel like we’re pressing, but there are a lot of areas where we can be better – forechecking, creating opportunities and burying them. Our focus is to play good defensively against top lines night in and night out,” he said. “It starts with a lot of those little things, just making sure we’re contributing – and if we’re not scoring we have to be solid and make it tough for the lines we’re playing against.”
Trotz provided a brief update on Predators winger Patric Hornqvist following Wednesday’s practice.
“He has skated; I think this is day three of skating. We are hoping that we get through the week and he will probably join the group after that. He’s skating and anytime a player is skating, that’s good. Once he joins the group, then it is probably a five-to seven day period.”
The Predators’ power play has struggled without Hornqvist’s net presence. The unit is just 2-for-31 over the last 10 games.
Shea Weber and Martin Erat did not practice Wednesday, but Trotz said that both will play tomorrow night against Phoenix.