The JoFA line emerged as a game changer for the Nashville Predators last season. But where do they rank among the best in NHL this season?
A truly elite first line in the NHL is a powerful weapon. It can change the course of a game as well as the course of a playoff series. We all saw what happened to the Predators once they lost Ryan Johansen in the playoffs last year. They felt apart offensively as their best weapon was broken up to create more depth scoring. Regardless of last season, the Nashville Predators struck gold when they found JoFA, so let’s discuss their performance this year.
Ryan Johansen is a dynamic playmaking center who moves the needle. Although he’s recently been injured, Johansen wasn’t having a superb season on paper as he’s amassed 5 goals and 26 points in 40 games. When you take a game to look at his on-ice performance, you’ll realize his numbers aren’t telling the whole story. His impact is being felt on both ends of the ice as his play on defense has grown. Just like P.K. Subban‘s transition to a shutdown defenceman, Johansen has become a two-way center who has a 200 foot impact.
On the right side is Viktor Arvidsson. The break-out star of last season has kept his feet moving and hustle going as he never takes a shift off. Arvy has 13 goals and 27 points in 42 games and is possibly the best forechecker on the team, if not the Central division. He probably won’t score 60 points again, but his work ethic will continue to cause havoc and create chances for his opposite winger.
Filip Forsberg is, unfortunately, going to miss significant time, but make no mistake, he’s the all-star of this team. The superstar Swede was off to a scorching start as he owns 15 goals and 34 points in 37 games. While the argument can be made that his power play points inflate his presence on the team, his ability to drive possession cannot be underestimated. His ability on either end of the ice reminds me of Marian Hossa in his prime, which is a flattering comparison for anyone.
Who’s the best?
I don’t think it’s crazy to venture that the JoFA line is a top 10 line in their own right, possibly top five even! So, let’s put them up to the test. I have thought of five lines that I think are some of the best. Some superstars have been left off, most notably Sidney Crosby (because he hasn’t played solid minutes with his current partners). If you feel as if I left off an obvious pick, feel free to tell me, but I just chose five lines that I feel are the best in the NHL. So, let’s start with an unlikely one out in Sunrise, Florida.
For reference, all stats are at five on five and an explanation of each stat can be found here.