The last two games have seen mixed results for the Nashville Predators. Though, there has been one constant. The new Bonino line has played like trash.
For those who don’t know, the new third line is Scott Hartnell, Nick Bonino, and Colton Sissons. Those three players are fine on their own and have had good stretches, but they’ve been atrocious when together. They’ve been impotent on offense and even worse on defense. Seeing them on the ice made my heart miss a beat, and it was even worse when they were accompanied by Yannick Weber and Alexei Emelin. Just to illustrate the lines’ ineptitude, let’s take a look at the last two games and how the Nashville Predators played without them.
We can all agree that the Coyotes game ended in a disappointing fashion, but the Predators played well. The Bonino line was not a part of the success though. In 8:49 minutes together, the line had a 51.72% Corsi and a 53.85% Fenwick. Those are good scores, even if they are the lowest of any Predators line. But that’s not where things went wrong, the line produced 6 scoring chances but gave up 10, to the ARIZONA COYOTES!!! The high danger chances were just as bad as they created two but gave up four. There’s no excuse for the poor numbers as the line started in the offensive zone 57.14% of the time and played mostly against the second and third lines.
The Bonino line ended up surrendering the first goal to the Coyotes after Anthony Duclair stripped Sissons of the puck and then made a nice power move. Saying that Duclair stripped Sissons is putting it nicely as Sissons looked as if he momentarily forgot that he was playing hockey. That was the theme of the night as the trio had a tough time breaking the puck out. I counted four instances where both wings made a play that ended in a turnover. By the end of the game, the Coyotes were using their last change advantage to overpower the group.
It was the worst game I’ve seen by a line in a long time. I was hesitant to write them off after one game though, so I waited to see them together in the future.
The future, aka Vs Kings
This game was a little different as this line saw about a minute less time and better scenarios. Despite starting in the offensive zones 60% of the time, the line was dominated as they ended with a 30% Corsi and a 22.22% Fenwick. All in all, this line wasn’t much better than the Coyotes game. They surrendered a goal at even strength but, on a brighter note, did only surrender one scoring chance. Once again, this line saw mostly middle six competition but for limited minutes and in favorable situations.
The Nashville Predators use their bottom six in roles. Specifically, the Jarnkrok trio shuts down a top six line so that the Turris line can take on lesser competition. The Bonino line is then used to prey on weaker competition so that the Predators can generate scoring from a less likely group. Only half of the two lines are holding up their end of the bargain so far.
All together now
In two games together, the Bonino line had a 46.15% Corsi and a 44.44% Fenwick. They were on the ice for one goal for but gave up two against. Scoring chances weren’t much better as the line generated seven but gave up 11, with two high danger chances for and four against. As you’ve probably gathered, the line was put in sheltered starts as 58.33% starts came in the offensive zone.
For reference, The Nashville Predators owned a 59.83% Corsi and a 58.33% Fenwick without those three on the ice. Another example of the lines’ sloppy play was that the Predators had six high danger chances against in the last two games, while the third pair had four. I saved the best for last though, as the Nashville Predators gave up one goal at five on five while the Bonino line gave up two at five on five. That’s mind boggling to me.
This line, that’s supposed to be a scoring line, isn’t producing at either end. How can you place a line out there that can’t be trusted no matter where they start? Especially with guys like Frederick Gaudreau, who is solid defensively, wasting time in the minors. If I had to pick the worst of the three, it’d be Colton Sissons. Sissons failed to clear the puck consistently and never really made an impact in the offensive zone. His spot on the power play and penalty kill continues to confuse me.
I expect this line to break up soon as Peter Laviolette is a known line-juggler. Hopefully he finds a way to mix things up while keeping the Salomaki-Jarnkrok-Watson line together, they’ve been awesome in their short time. The Nashville Predators have a bye-week after the game against the Oilers, I think they will use it to reevaluate their line combinations.