Mattias Ekholm played another strong game for the Nashville Predators on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Kings. He finished the game with a plus-two rating and played a solid game defensively in Nashville’s 3-2 win.
It seems like Ekholm has played reasonably well all season long for the Predators. He doesn’t make many glaring mistakes and has made pretty good decisions for the most part this season. However, he is having trouble consistently staying in the lineup for the Predators. He’s been on a rotation of sorts with Victor Bartley as of late and has found himself being a healthy scratch in 15 games so far this season.
“It’s a special situation,” Ekholm said. “I’m not used to it, but I’m just happy to be here. This is the highest level you can be at. I just want to be here and try to do my best every time I get a chance. Obviously, chances have been coming a little bit so-and-so lately, but I’m just trying to stay positive and trying to build off the positives when I play.”
Ekholm was solid on Saturday night against Los Angeles. He was paired with Seth Jones, and the two of them meshed well together. Ekholm didn’t do anything spectacular. He didn’t have to. However, he also didn’t do anything that was glaringly wrong either. He just played a solid game, which has been what he’s done for the majority of the season so far.
“I thought he was pretty good today,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. “You look at Jones and [Ekholm], coming into the season they had a combined total of what, four games of NHL experience? I’m guessing. The goaltenders had one, so we’re a little bit young in those areas but they’re responding pretty well.”
Ekholm has recorded four assists in 24 games of action so far this season. Those aren’t great numbers offensively, but he doesn’t have to be great offensively at this stage of his career. Ekholm’s job is to play a solid game defensively on a nightly basis. However, it’s hard for him to establish a rhythm when he’s a healthy scratch on a regular basis. So, has that been frustrating for Ekholm?
“Both yes and no. I’d rather have it like that instead of playing bad and then not getting a chance again,” Ekholm said. “I’ve felt that I’ve been playing pretty good, and that’s why I probably keep my confidence up. So, it’s been a good frustration I guess, instead of if I’ve been playing bad.”
Nashville has a lot of good young defensemen, and Ekholm is definitely included in that mix. Don’t let the healthy scratches fool you. Ekholm has been a solid player for the Predators so far this season.