Nashville Predators: What to Do With Mike Ribeiro

The Nashville Predators and Coach Peter Laviolette have a decision to make before tomorrow night’s game.

In a surprise move, Coach Lavy sat down Mike Ribeiro as a healthy scratch last night against the San Jose Sharks.  It was the first time all season that Ribiero was out of the lineup other than the final game of the season in a game that the veterans rested. Rookie Pontus Aberg took his place in the lineup

Aberg played less than eight minutes in the game while Ribeiro was averaging more than 15 in the playoffs. The big question is what will happen now that Ribiero sat out a game?  Was the message sent and he will return or has Lavy lost confidence in the veteran center and will shuffle minutes to his top two lines?

No one can argue that Mike Ribeiro has had a horrendous playoffs. In nine games he had one assist and was a minus 3.  He took some inopportune penalties and won only 21 of 60 faceoffs, a 35% rate.  In both series, he was overpowered by bigger centers on the opposing teams.

In last night’s game, Mike Fisher moved up to the second line and had one of his best games of the playoffs.  He had several good chances and had an assist on the Colin Wilson goal.  He generally played between Colin Wilson and Craig Smith although there were times that Filip Forsberg was on his wing.

Both of the top two lines looked better last night and you wonder if Laviolette wants to change that up.  The Power Play also excelled without Ribiero, scoring on two of five chances.

There are a couple of things that could put Ribeiro back into the lineup.  Craig Smith still didn’t look 100% last night and could possibly miss another game.  Colton Sissons bent his knee around the goalpost last night and it was a miracle after seeing it that he was able to return.  It could stiffen up after the game.

Nashville Predators Mike Ribeiro

Nashville Predators center Mike Ribeiro (63). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

During the past two seasons, Forsberg and Ribeiro developed a good chemistry but it hasn’t shown in the playoffs. Forsberg scored a goal last night, his first in eight games in the playoffs.

Pontus Aberg played his very first game as a Predator last night.  The Preds called up forwards Vladislav Kamenev, Kevin Fiala and Frederick Gaudreau from Milwaukee as well.  They had five rookies in the lineup last night and Laviolette isn’t afraid to put them in.  Kamenev and Gaudreau both played center for the Ads while team scoring leader Kevin Fiala was a winger.

It’s going to be interesting both at morning skate and in pregame warmups to see what the Nashville Predators do with Ribeiro. They probably won’t give much away and will dress 13 forwards for pregame.  Our guess is that the message has been sent and we will see Mike Ribeiro back in the lineup tomorrow. Hopefully, the message sunk in.

If Ribeiro re-enters the lineup, it probably won’t be especially popular with Preds fans.  They were pretty happy when they found out he wasn’t playing last night.  Whatever helps this team get further in the playoffs is the best move and that is in Coach Laviolette’s hands.