The Nashville Predators needed point-production from the third line. They are finding it from the stick of a player the fans didn’t want to save.
It is always difficult to let go of something or someone you loved. You invest time and attention to a relationship. It means something to you. Alas, sometimes you just have to let go and move on. And the Nashville Predators did just that when they protected Calle Jarnkrok in the Expansion Draft.
Of course, every time you see your ex or a car just like the one you gave up, the memories come flooding back. You miss them, wondering “what if.” As the season started, we all saw James Neal scoring for Vegas and wondered “what if” we let him stay. However, the Predators moved on.
Poetically, it was when the Golden Knights visited that opinions stated to change. Neal scored an early goal, but Jarnkrok soon followed. He has played well ever since.
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The season didn’t start well for Jarnkrok. It took 10 games for him to notch his first goal of the year. Coming into December, he boasted only 3 goals. Now? That total is 10, and there are still two games to go in the month. Since the month started, Jarnkrok has been fantastic. Seven of his nine points this month come from goals. Four of those goals come from 18 high-danger opportunities.
Why the sudden success? Part of it may be moving Filip Forsberg to Jarnkrok’s with Pontus Aberg. Injuries and roster adjustments allowed coach Peter Laviolette to rotate players into more effect pairings. Since the move, the line has been on the ice 14.4% of the time, which is second to the Predators’ second line. When they are on the ice, the team scores on 20% of their shots. As a result, the new third line is outscoring their opponents 6 -1, with a 3 – 0 goals in high danger chances difference.
Additionally, Jarnkrok is seeing an increase in offensive zone starts. While his season percentage is 39, Jarnkrok is seeing starting in the offensive zone 49% of the time in December. This is providing him more chances to see the net. As a unit, the new third line is seeing 51% offensive zone starts.
Will it last? Possibly. The addition of Forsberg to the line may not last. The Nashville Predators’ top line is not performing as well without him. Should another change occur, the success of Jarnkrok may be hampered.
But, then again, it could continue.