The Nashville Predators have a lot of skill in their roster, but chemistry has yet to strike. The new third line could emerge as an offensive threat though.
Colton Sissons, Craig Smith, and Kevin Fiala were haphazardly put on the same line when Nick Bonino went down with injury. No one really knew what to expect but the trio was dripping with potential. They joined together for the first time against the Colorado Avalanche, and they hit it off immediately. While the goal scoring took a game to get going, the possession took no time at all.
All stats come from naturalstattrick.com, shoutout to them because they’re awesome. And all stats are used in a five on five context, seeing as powerplay and penalty kill can skew how we view players. All I can say is that this line is a dominant five on five line.
Before and after
Seeing these players in a vacuum is nice, but the before and after stats say quite a bit. Even the average versus what they have been over the last few games.
|Corsi With Linemates
|Fenwick With Linemates
It’s pretty clear to see the difference. While the three were above average in throughout the year, it’s clear how dominant they’ve been together. Their combined Corsi is 63.83 while their Fenwick is even better at 72.28. For reference, the JoFA line has a combined Corsi of 56.53 and a Fenwick of 57.98. The JoFA line is one of the elite trios in the NHL and has had top-five possession numbers since they were joined last season. Granted, the sample size is a bit small, but if this is a sign of things to come, the Nashville Predators may have struck gold.
Keep the hype going
The third line continually faces third line talent with some second lines mixed in. But other teams defenses are another story. Other teams have matched their first or second pair defensemen against the Sissons line at five on five. In the third line’s short history, in each game, they’ve played the most against Erik Johnson, Robert Hagg, and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Johnson is a true top pairing defenseman who plays on a defensively poor team. It was a bit crazy to see the new third line roll roughshod over Johnson while the JoFA line was free to pick on other lines. Robbert Hagg is the one who stands out in this trio. He has tons of potential but is unproven and hasn’t played much at the NHL level. The third line picked on him quite a bit but otherwise played Shane Gostisbehere, who’s no slouch. Though he’s not exactly a rock in his own zone. And then there’s Shattenkirk. He’s a wonderful offensive defenseman but once again, he lacks in his own zone. Keeping Shattenkirk hemmed in his own zone isn’t a small feat though, as he exits the zone swift and efficiently.
Keep it together
Much like the JoFA line, don’t break up a proven good thing for something that might be good. Let this line play together and gel. And if it ever breaks down, then you can switch it up.
This could be the line that breaks open the depth scoring the Nashville Predators need. The Predators can’t rely on the JoFA line alone to win games, they’ll need the third and fourth lines to step up. This new third line is a dominant possession force, the goals are coming. Let’s hope they come sooner rather than later.