The Nashville Predators had a lot of contributors to their recent hot streak.
Now that March is over, we are now within three games left of the regular season finale. I’d like to reflect on the very successful and fun month. There were a plethora of players on the roster that could have made our three stars of the month list, but three prevailed and one had made a name for himself. Roman Josi, James Neal, and Ryan Johansen all were a part of a month that saw the Predators break a franchise record for most games in a row in which they collected a point. Here are the Three Stars of the month as I see them:
Here are the Three Stars of the month as I see them:
3rd Star: Ryan Johansen (5G, 9A) Ryan Johansen plays the center on the line with Neal, and virtually every goal James Neal scored, Johansen was on the scoreboard with the assist. Another reason I added him to the list is because in his first two months here, aside from scoring on his very first shot as a Predator, he seemed to be shy to pull the trigger and shoot. He has seemed to be more trigger happy as of late, and when he isn’t, he always finds a way to really make a play and set up something dangerous. Anytime he is on the ice, the opposing team has to dial in on him.
We don’t know a whole lot about this guy, seeing as he has only been here for three months, but I can say that I am truly excited to see what he will be doing for us in the future.
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2nd Star: Roman Josi (2G, 10A) Although he finished 5th in the Norris Trophy voting last year, Roman Josi has flown below the radar during his career here in Nashville. Many seemed to think that we had the best-kept secret of the NHL. With 12 points in March, we saw Josi jump on to the minds of analysts around the league. He may not show up on the score sheet every night, but if you watch the way he carries the puck and the centerman like plays he sets up when he plays the half wall, you can see the skill this young star brings to the ice. Aside from the offensive numbers, he truly is a defenceman. He blocks shots, backchecks, and is just as fierce from the point as his partner, Shea Weber.
I believe that he finishes higher in the Norris voting this year, but I don’t see him winning it with Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators breaking records that he set.
1st Star: James Neal (10G, 7A) Much like Filip Forsberg did in February, James Neal has been lighting the lamp all month. With 10 goals, he is now within
reach of Jason Arnott’s single season record of 33. With an absolute lethal release, Neal is really morphing into the player we all knew he could be for us when we traded for him. Not that he had a down year last season, 23 goals are something to be happy with, but he has hit the 40 mark before. This year he is now skating alongside the franchise’s first every 1C.
He recorded a hat trick in March against Edmonton and it seems like that was the game that really set him off. Also, at the conclusion of the month, he scored against his old team the Penguins. It wasn’t received very well by the fans in Pittsburgh, either. On the TV, you could hear the booing from the crowd. With the playoffs right around the corner, he is heating up at the right time, for sure.
Going into the playoffs, it’s important to have as many players contributing as possible. If the Preds can have another month or two like the last couple, they will be going deep into the playoffs.