Nashville Predators: Kevin Fiala playing well, goals will come

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Kevin Fiala is a dynamic scorer who’s just snakebitten. He’s doing the little things right and it will pay off for the Nashville Predators.

The Nashville Predators as a whole have been snakebitten. The team is currently shooting 8.2%, a full point below the league average of 9.2%.The only line that is consistently putting points on the board is the famed JoFA line. Well the past JoFA line which is now technically the JoFF line. Peter Laviolette took the line blender to his roster during the second intermission of the Chicago game. What came out was a totally new top six. Viktor Arvidsson and Kevin Fiala were swapped in an effort to kickstart Fiala and Pontus Aberg. The move worked on Friday, but unfortunately didn’t translate to the latter half of a doubleheader against the Islanders. Although Kevin Fiala did create a play that Filip Forsberg scored on.

Fiala is still a developing player, despite playing in his second NHL season. Young players go through slumps from time to time, and it doesn’t help that the rest of Nashville Predators are slumping as well. That being said, Kevin Fiala is still playing great hockey.

The advanced stats

The best way to show where Kevin Fiala is positively impacting the Nashville Predators is through advanced analytics. It doesn’t matter what line Fiala is on, he’s consistently a possession driver. Even when he was playing on the third line, he was still a bright spot. For these stats, I’ve only included five on five situations as Fiala would get an unfair bump due to his power play time. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Corsi% 5v5Fenwick% 5v5High Danger Chances Ratio 5v5PDO 5v5
Kevin Fiala





The Corsi and Fenwick numbers speak for themselves as they’re a few points higher than the average. One interesting takeaway is that while Fiala maybe doesn’t generate a ton of shots, most of them find their way to the net. And as my old coaches used to say, “gotta hit the net to score”. His Corsi and Fenwick actually rank fifth of the forwards. So he’s doing a great job of possessing the puck and generating shots but are those shots becoming chances?

Well not only are those shots becoming chances, but they’re often becoming high danger chances. He’s on average generating 2.3 high danger chances a night. A perfect example was Forsberg’s goal against the Islanders. It doesn’t happen if Fiala doesn’t move his feet around the defender to force a shot and rebound. Obviously you’d like to see fewer chances being allowed, but that’s a good ratio for a young offensively minded forward.

Last and certainly least is his PDO, or in other words, his luck. He’s riding a surprisingly low PDO of 92.3, about 8 points fewer than the average of 100. A lot of that comes from Fiala’s linemates on ice shooting percentage. He and his linemates are currently shooting at a laughably bad 3.64%. We have to to imagine that will rise to the average 9.2, and it has no better place to do so than with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg. Not only is his shooting percentage bad, but he’s not getting any help from his goalies. Who are on average saving 88.66% of the shots headed their way. All this is trying to say is that Fiala is dreadfully unlucky and will snap out of it.

The simple stats

For those of us who aren’t drawn to the spreadsheet, Kevin Fiala’s simple stats tell us a bit as well.

PointsOffensive Zone Start% 5v5Shooting PercentagePenalties Drawn
Kevin Fiala





Let’s start out simple, Fiala has five points in 10 games. All five are assists and three came on the power play. Not exactly wonderful numbers to start the year, especially when it’s only two points in 10 games in five on five situations. No goals is a little surprising for the dynamic scoring winger, which explains his shooting percentage of 0. What’s a bit worrying is that he only has 10 shots in 10 games, but his shots should rise as he plays more with the first line.

A concerning stat I keep coming back to is that Fiala is only being deployed in the offensive zone 51.72% of the time. About 9 or 10 percent less than the JoFA line. I understand wanting to put the first line in the best position to score but cut Fiala some slack. He’s still developing and needs to be sheltered. Peter Laviolette isn’t doing a good job of putting Fiala in a position to succeed. Hopefully this changes now that Fiala is on the first line.

A fun little stat that peaked my interest is that Fiala has drawn six penalties in 10 games. That over half a penalty per game, which is elite. Not as good as Matthew Tkachuk, who is close to usurping Corey Perry as the dominant pest in the NHL. But still pretty good for a player who doesn’t take many penalties. Nevertheless, Fiala is making plays and forcing players to take penalties to stop him.

Let’s cut the kid some slack

People have seemingly forgotten how explosive Fiala can be, especially after the emergence of Eeli Tolvanen in KHL. The Predators as a whole aren’t playing well at five on five, so it’s nice to see Fiala driving the team. His scoring will pick up, but for now, he’s just unlucky. It unfortunately happens. A great player can only be kept off the scoresheet for so long. I think Fiala’s time is coming very soon.

Next: The good, bad, and ugly versus the Islanders