With as much talent as the Nashville Predators’ roster holds, it may be tough to piece together ideal line-ups. Things may be changing on the ice this season.
Of the many certainties regarding the Nashville Predators, we know they have a stellar defense, good goaltending, and young, up-and-coming talent. Also certain is that their top line is affectionately known as JoFA. If the preseason is an indicator of how the regular season plays out, we might have a new top line on our hands.
No more JoFA?
In NHL.com’s season preview of the Nashville Predators, Rob Stanley’s projected lineup doesn’t look very familiar. Their projections are listed as:
Notable differences are–Fiala replaces Arvidsson on the top line. Craig Smith and Calle Jarnkrok swap places. Hartman and Salomaki round out the fourth line. What can we expect from this lineup shake-up?
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If this projection holds true, on paper it seems like Peter Laviolette is making adjustments to balance out the scoring even more. Last year, based on point totals per line, there was almost a 100 point difference between lines 1 & 3, an even greater amount between 1 & 4, and similarly, a 60 point difference between 2 & 3.
Bumping Fiala up to the top line will only increase his production, making it easier to cross the 30-goal mark. Arvidsson and especially Jarnkrok can play just about anywhere. Smith and Tolvanen could potentially wreak havoc on the third line. I only question if Bonino can keep up with them. And the fourth line could definitely steal some goals.
Change is good depending on how you look at it. In this case, I see a lot of benefits from this lineup projection, in particular, an even more balanced scoring attack. Just need a new nickname for the top line. JoFFi, anyone?
Defense and Goaltending Stay Strong
As to be expected, the defense crew won’t see much difference compared to last year. Josi and Ellis man the first line. Subban and Ekholm following them. Dan Hamhuis, in his second go-around with the Nashville Predators, pairs up with Yannick Weber on the last line. It’s highly likely Matt Irwin and Anthony Bitetto rotate in and out as needed to keep the defense fresh. Minimal changes to the defensive lineup means another strong performance is to be expected.
With the re-signing of Juuse Saros this offseason, it’s also no surprise who will be in net for the Nashville Predators. Pekka Rinne will look to repeat a Vezina Trophy-winning season. But don’t be shocked if Saros cuts into his playing time. The Predators are fortunate enough to have two great goaltenders, albeit at opposite points in their careers, who both need ice time.
If this lineup projection holds up, some fans might be disappointed in breaking up the JoFa line. But on paper, there is cause for excitement. The point production might be more spread out among the lines, which in turn will keep the opponent on their toes for a full 60 minutes. Either way, hockey season is arriving, and the Nashville Predators lineup is looking good.