2014 begins with a three-game, East Coast road trip for the Nashville Predators, starting tonight against the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins.
The last two games of 2013 brought a pair of wins for the Preds, the first time they have strung victories together since December 12th and 14th.
The sudden emergence of offense has been the difference for Nashville in their last two games, as the Preds have lit the lamp nine times. To put that in perspective, the club has only scored 95 times in 40 games (the fewest in the Western Conference), so the team has registered nearly 10 percent of their goals in just two games.
The recent connection of Colin Wilson and Mike Fisher on the first line has helped Nashville turn things around in their pair of wins (after losing the previous five games).
Wilson and Fisher both had three-point games in the Preds last contest against the Red Wings and at least one of the two forwards factored into all three of the Preds goals against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on Colin,” head coach Barry Trotz explained following Nashville’s 6-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings. “He’s buying into what we need him to do and what he can be. [...] Good things are happening because all the right things are there; the attention to detail, the constant competing, moving the feet and making it hard to defend against him.”
Mike Fisher started slowly this season after exiting the lineup twice because of injuries, but the offensive side of his game has picked up after Trotz has become more selective in the forward’s role.
“He’s playing really good, and in the past couple of games [David] Legwand has gotten all of the defensive responsibilities. Fisher does both,” Trotz said. “The defensive part of his game is really strong, and he’s getting rewarded with some offense right now, I’m not using Fisher as the primary guy as much as I have been and I think he looks fresher. He’s playing really well, and his line is playing quite well.”
A good offense can make up for a lot of other areas that might be lacking in a team’s game, and if Nashville can continue to rely on Fisher and Wilson to contribute goals while playing five-on-five, the Preds will have a chance to win against any club, including the top teams in the East, like the Boston Bruins.
Nashville wasn’t able to match Boston’s firepower the last time these two teams met–just over a week ago–falling 6-2 at home. But the Preds will hope their dramatic improvement on offense, over the last two games, can continue when they take the ice tonight at 6 pm.
It will take more stellar games on the offensive side of the puck if the Predators want to hang with the teams they’ll face on this three-game trip.