The Nashville Predators have just about reached the halfway point of the 2012-13 NHL lockout shortened season. With 23 out of 48 regular season games played, it’s time to see how each player is measuring up at the midway part of the season. Today, we take a look at the forwards…
Bourque is the leading goal scorer for the Predators through the first 23 games of the season. Yes, you read that right. Bourque’s six goals leads a Nashville team that is struggling to score almost on a nightly basis. Bourque has been a valuable two-way asset for the Predators so far during his young career. He’s been one of the most consistent forwards for Nashville so far this season and will play a big role in the second half. Bourque has a plus-5 rating and has scored two game-winning goals thus far.
Clune, picked up on waivers prior to opening night, has been a tenacious forward that has appeared in 22 of the 23 games for the Predators so far this season. He has sort of been the replacement for both Jordin Tootoo and Brian McGrattan. Perhaps he doesn’t execute the energy role as well as Tootoo does nor is he the enforcer that McGrattan is, but his game is a mix that has elements of both roles. He’s also shown glimpses of being effective offensively, notching one goal and two assists on his fourth line assignment. Clune’s effort and intensity have allowed him to be an effective player, particularly of late alongside Craig Smith and Sergei Kostitsyn.
Erat is second on the team in scoring with 12 points but has only registered five points in his last 14 games. He started off very well on the offensive side of the puck, racking up four points in Nashville’s first three games. Since then, Erat has been inconsistent. His three goals and nine assists through 23 games aren’t awful, but he has shown the ability in the past to be more consistent than those numbers suggest. Erat has a minus-4 rating on the season so far. Look for him to be more effective in the second half of the season.
Fisher had 51 points in the 2011-12 season. At his current pace, Fisher wouldn’t even come close to that mark over the course of an 82-game season. Fisher has just eight points (4g, 4a) in the first 23 games of the season. The Predators aren’t going anywhere this season if those numbers don’t increase dramatically in the second half. Defensively, Fisher has played pretty well. He’s been blocking shots and backchecking well. However, he’s got to pick it up on the offensive side of the puck.
Gaustad has played in just 16 of Nashville’s 23 contests so far this season. He has won a staggering 182 of 290 (62.8%) of the faceoffs he’s taken so far this season, which is the highest winning percentage in the league for players who have taken over 100 draws. He’s been money in the faceoff circle, but has only contributed three points (1g, 2a) offensively. After signing a four-year, $13 million contract in the off-season, the Predators would probably like to see him contribute a little more offensively.
Halischuk has also only played in 16 of Nashville’s 23 contests so far this season and has found himself as the healthy scratch with a pretty high degree of regularity. To be frank, Halischuk has not played his way back into the lineup when he has seen the ice. In the 2011-12 season, Halischuk scored 15 goals mostly as a fourth line player. He hasn’t contributed much this season, registering just one assist in the 16 games he has played. Halischuk hasn’t played that well on the defensive end either and has a minus-4 rating.
Hornqvist has missed some time due to injury so far this season, playing in only 13 of Nashville’s 23 games. Despite missing 10 games due to injury, Hornqvist still leads all forwards with 53 shots on goal, including 12 shots on goal on Feb. 18 against the Colorado Avalanche. Hornqvist only has two goals this season and seven points total. His offense hasn’t been anything special, but he is creating a lot of chances. One would think those shots will start translating into goals sooner or later.
Kositsyn has registered only nine points in 23 games and has been wildly inconsistent so far in 2012-13. There have been stretches where he has played well, and there have also been stretches where he has been virtually invisible. The Predators are going to need a lot more from him both offensively and defensively in the second half of the season. Kostitsyn seems to have been finding his groove a little bit over the past 10 games. He leads the team in the plus-minus rating at a plus-6 but has got to start finding ways to produce more.
Legwand has not played well so far this season. He has only registered seven points in 23 games, including two points in his last 10 games. Legwand hasn’t been as strong defensively or on the penalty kill as he normally is, either. Legwand has an even plus-minus rating, but the lack of offense from him has been very concerning for the Predators. Much like Fisher, they’re going to need him to get going in the second half of the season or it will be very hard to make the playoffs.
Smith struggled mightily coming out of the gate but appears to be on his way toward being more consistent offensively. Smith only has five points (3g, 2a) this season, but four of those points have come in the last eight games. Smith was held without a point through the first 10 games of the season. His speed and natural playmaking ability have created some good chances for him that simply haven’t found their way to the back of the net. If his recent play is any indication, Smith should be poised for a pretty good second half.
Spaling has registered five points (3g, 2a) in 23 games so far this season, and the Predators have won every game in which he’s scored a goal. However, he has not been good defensively this season, which is not normal. Spaling has a minus-7 rating so far this season, which is the worst among forwards on the roster. He has to play better in his own end as the season moves forward and also needs to find ways to bury the chances he gets offensively.
Wilson leads the team with 15 points (5g, 10a) and has arguably been Nashville’s best forward all season long. He has not been as consistent over the last six games, registering just one point. However, Wilson had a dominant stretch earlier in the year where he registered 13 points in 10 games. If he can regain that level of dominance, he could be the offensive catalyst the Predators desperately need in the second half. Wilson has played better defensively in stretches throughout the season but does have a minus-1 rating. Still, Wilson’s play has been about as solid as it gets for the Predators.
Yip has played well offensively in some games, defensively in other games and has provided a spark with his physical play at other times. Yip has only played in 19 of Nashville’s 23 games so far this season. He’s been the healthy scratch a few times and just recently suffered an upper-body injury against the Sharks. Yip has registered five points (2g, 3a) so far this season and has an even plus-minus rating. Yip hasn’t done anything spectacular, but he hasn’t done anything to hurt the team in a negative way either.