The JoFA line remains the crown jewel of the Nashville Predators as the win streak continues. Although the new second line has won the affection of many.
The Nashville Predators faithful have been infatuated with the new second line ever since Kyle Turris was acquired. The second line is certifiably on fire, but the JoFA line remains the cream of the crop, as a certain macho man once said. Ryan Johansen remains a top 10 center in the NHL who drives possession at an elite level. Filip Forsberg is one of the hottest goal scorers in the league as he leads the team in points with 20. And of course, Viktor Arvidsson is a sparkplug who can play anywhere in the lineup, and perform excellently.
The Jets game was no different as the JoFA line ate tough minutes and came out victorious. Their individual scores, as well as their combined scores, paint a lovely picture.
Ryan Johansen had a special night as he potted his second goal of the season as well as his 13th point. The playmaking centerman had a 54.17% Corsi and a 53.33% Fenwick. Not an unusual game for him as his season averages are a 53.24% Corsi and a 53.40% Fenwick. The center uses his size to shield and protect the puck until he finds an open man. Johansen impressed with three zone exits, including one steal and carry as well as no turnovers. He was equally as effective in the offensive zone as he completed one pass for a high danger shot as well as scoring his goal from a high danger area. Johansen seems to have found his game after a slow, frustrating start.
Filip Forsberg is a unique case in the NHL, not many wingers drive possession like Forsberg does. He moved the needle against the Jets as he completed an excellent pass to a high danger area that resulted in Johansen’s goal. If the Nashville Predators want to start scoring at five on five, they’ll need more plays like that. Forsberg’s numbers are fairly consistent, as he owned a 52.38% Corsi and a 50 Fenwick. His seasonal numbers are almost identical, with a 52.28% Corsi and 51.30% Fenwick. Forsberg had some issues with clearing the puck, but otherwise, put up a very solid effort. Even though it’s usually vice versa, it was nice to see Forsberg make a spectacular assist on Johansen’s goal.
Viktor Arvidsson is a little bit of a different case. He’s a beloved player in the hearts of many and while he creates shots at an elite level, I think he needs Johansen and Forsberg more than they need him. Regardless, Arvidsson had a less than impressive night with a Corsi of 41.67% and a Fenwick of 40.00%. Pretty low compared to his seasonal average of a 51.34% Corsi and a 50.82% Fenwick. Arvidsson did have two assists tonight, although both were secondary. He’d didn’t generate many passes to high danger areas but he was stellar on the penalty kill. Arvidsson is a high motor player and the open ice on the penalty kill is where he excels. There and of course three on three overtime. A quiet game from Arvidsson isn’t the end of the world though, as the line as a whole was positive.
The JoFA line spent 12:27 together at five on five and 14:43 in all situations. Let’s just focus on the five on five, for the sake of fairness. The trio combined for a 50% Corsi and a 50% Fenwick. Average numbers by any standard, except that they’re no longer sheltered. The Nashville Predators have historically sacrificed their third and fourth lines so that the JoFA line could start in the offensive zone more than 60% of the time. But those days seem over now as the Turris line is getting some easy zone starts.
The first line started in the offensive zone 36.36% of the time. Tough starts made tougher when you consider that the JoFA only saw the opposition’s top six tonight. Seriously, they only saw third line opposition for about a minute altogether. The JoFA line is willingly eating tough minutes for the first time since their inception. Not only are they facing elite offensive talent, but they’re actually matching them. In 8:28 against the Scheifele line, JoFA put up a 48.04% Corsi and a goal. Scoring chances were about even with four for and five against. Although The JoFA line put up three high danger chances while only giving up two. The first line met the Scheifele line in the defensive zone 7 times. Tough minutes and zone starts for a primarily offensive line.
While you may look up at those numbers and say how they aren’t positive, they’re still good. JoFA eating tough minutes means that the second, third, and possibly even fourth lines can receive sheltered minutes. Let’s remember that a lot of the Jet’s chances came in the last period when the Nashville Predators gave up on offense. If you take away the third period altogether, the Jets lose their goal against Johansen as well as another scoring chance.
Score adjusted stats
When you adjust for score and venue, the JoFA line looks a whole lot better. Adjusting for score and venue takes into account that teams are more likely to go all out and shoot more when down by many goals. While teams who are up tend to take fewer shots and make less risky plays. What it essentially translates to is that Johansen and company did most of their damage while the score was close, rather than in garbage time. Score adjusted possession metrics has the group with a Corsi of 52.02% and a Fenwick of 51.63%. What it comes down to, is that the JoFA line was at it’s best when the game was close.
Will the trend continue?
Center depth is one hell of a drug. Turris, Sissons, Jarnkrok, and Bonino have all demonstrated that they can score when given the opportunity. It looks as if the days of Jarnkrok and the third line trying to stifle first line talent is over as the JoFA line is looking extremely mature. Hopefully, the two way excellence continues as the Nashville Predators can count on the first line for contributions in both ends.