The Nashville Predators won two games, but struggled at significant moments. To help, should Mike Fisher be replaced in the lineup by Calle Jarnkrok?
Through the first two games of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Nashville Predators have answered many questions including that they are definitely for real. Game 3, that is another story. However, there is one question that has come up…Should Mike Fisher remain in the lineup once Calle Jarnkrok returns from his upper body injury?
Below I break down the three reasons why Jarnkrok should draw back into the lineup once he is healthy.
After retiring in August at the conclusion of the season, the 37-year-old veteran forward rejoined the Predators in late February. Since joining the club just over a month ago, Fisher has barely contributed. In fact, he’s only managed to contribute four points in 18 regular season and playoff contests.
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Although on the surface, Fisher’s limited offensive numbers can be attributed to the simple fact that he is playing just 10 minutes a night in the postseason. When you dig deeper, it’s evident that Fisher is barely creating any chances. In two games he has created just three scoring chances and has he the worst Scoring Chances For% out of any Predator forward.
On the flip side, Calle Jarnkrok had his best offensive year in his young career with Predators, recording 35 points in 68 games. Although before being sidelined with an injury, Jarnkrok failed to record a point in the previous four games, the young Swede has shown his offensive upside recording 7 points in a five-game stretch before the mini-slump. Ultimately, by bringing Jarnkrok in he would add some extra offensive depth to the Predators that would help them moving forward.
Speed, Speed, Speed
There is no secret that the NHL is all about speed these days and that it is especially important when playing the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche boast one of the fastest players in the game in the ever dangerous, Nathan MacKinnon among others. Speaking of no secrets, their no secret that Mike Fisher is not very fast and it’s clear that his lack of foot speed has cost him already in these playoffs.
This is evident when looking at Blake Comeau’s goal in Game One of the series as Mike Fisher was caught puck watching and was unable to close the gap on Carl Soderberg fast enough. This allowed his shot to get through to the net. His lack of speed and ability to play at this level in the playoffs have also caused Fisher to turn the puck over or not be able to make the simple plays like receiving a pass in the neutral zone.
Quite frankly, heading into Colorado where Jared Bednar will have the last change, Peter Laviolette cannot afford to have the slow-footed Fisher caught on the ice against the Avalanche’s top line. It won’t end well. Not to mention, playing in thinner air at the Pepsi Center may take its toll on an older Fisher.
The one area that Fisher has contributed in so far in the playoffs and since he came out of retirement has been in the faceoff dot. In 16 regular season games, his faceoff winning percentage was 58.1% and thus far in the opening round of the playoffs, he’s continued to find success. His 62.5% winning percentage sees him sit second on the Predators behind Nick Bonino. Yes, having strong c that can win key faceoffs is important, Jarnkrok has shown that he can win faceoffs too. In 68 regular season games, he was converting on 51.2% of his faceoffs. However, Jarnkrok has not played a ton of center since the beginning of March so this could give Laviolette second thoughts.
In the end, it’s apparent that so far in the playoffs, Fisher has only contributed in the faceoff dot. With that being said, if Peter Laviolette wants to add more offensive depth and speed to his club, Jarnkrok will be in the lineup. Fortunately, if this is the route that the Predators coaching staff wants to take, they may not have to wait much longer as Jarnkrok once again took part in today’s morning skate.