Nashville Predators: Somehow Navigating Through Big Injuries

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

Fans of basically every team can use injuries as an excuse, but Nashville Predators fans have no reason to because the team keeps winning.

It’s hard to explain how the Nashville Predators are where they are in the standings despite so many injuries to key players. Going into the season you already had an overhauled roster that would need to find chemistry before reaching its full potential.

Here’s a list of key injuries that have plagued the Nashville Predators so far this season:

We’ve caught glimpses of the Predators at their full potential, like their stretch in November where they won nine of 10 and looked unstoppable against anyone. A late collapse to Minnesota kept them from winning 10-straight though.

However, the standings are not kind in the Western Conference. The gap between first-place Las Vegas (61 points) and the last wildcard team is just eight points. That’s scary if you’re a team like the Predators that are fighting injuries to their top players. Here’s how the Predators are surviving, and what they have to do the rest of the way.

Dependable goaltending

We all know the Predators have loads of firepower up and down the roster. You can never count them out of a game thanks to their depth, which I’ll get to later. However, that luxury has taken a hit with injuries to Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, Scott Hartnell and Nick Bonino over the course of the season. That’s just to name a few.

The Predators are having to survive on stellar play in net, and not just from Pekka Rinne. Juuse Saros is coming up big after a shaky start to the season. Saros has two shutouts with 40-plus saves this season. He’s only the second rookie goaltender to pull this feat off since 1955, per Adam Vingan of the Tennessean:

Rinne is playing solid enough in his own right. If these injuries continue, Rinne will have to keep carrying the load, or Saros might have to step in and start more. Rinne hasn’t been horrible, but he has given up three or more goals in four of his last seven starts, culminating in a 3-4 record. Either way, we can’t depend on a depleted Predators roster to keep putting up four-plus goals every game.

Digging deep into the roster

This roster has been forced all season to build chemistry in quick fashion. The lines will keep being shuffled around with key injuries. Usually, that spells disaster, but somehow the Predators are mostly weathering the storm. Despute the success, there’s still a lot of question marks until guys get healthy.

Ryan Johansen was the latest key injury as he left the game early in the 1-0 win over Vegas earlier this week. Luckily, the Nashville Predators got him back in time to play the Arizona Coyotes.

The Predators are having to find other guys to chip in on the scoring end with the lengthy absences of top scorers. Craig Smith immediately jumps to mind in picking up the slack in Forsberg’s absence. He’s now tied for the team lead in goals with 15.

Kevin Fiala has gone through a recent drought, so the Predators need him to start scoring again. He’s up to 11 on the season, but just one in his last nine games. We know he can find that spark at any moment, and I think he will very soon.

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Other guys that need to step up their game with injuries plaguing the top two scorers are Pontus Aberg, Colton Sissons and Kyle Turris. These three haven’t been contributing as much as needed in recent times. If the Predators are going to keep pace with the top contenders in the West, these three have to up their production.