The Nashville Predators’ depth was tested early, and their special teams struggled. Since Austin Watson returned, the team has improved.
Austin Watson’s arrest during the offseason and his subsequent suspension sent rifts throughout the Nashville Predators fan base. Domestic violence is a serious issue, and for some, it’s hard to forgive. An appeal reduced Watson’s suspension from 27 games to 18, and his return to the ice came at a good time for the Predators. The team was experiencing injuries on the offensive front, and special teams were in shambles.
Nonetheless, Nashville stuck to their winning ways without Austin Watson. But with seven games under his belt, Austin Watson has proven to be a spark plug to the team. He’s enhanced his overall play, and he’s showing he’s focused on hockey and helping his team win games.
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His impact has been noticeable in a number of ways. Watson notched assists in his first two games back. He scored a goal in the first part of a home-and-home set against the St. Louis Blues and then dropped gloves at the start of the second game. Though, the highlight of his return has to be his hat-trick against Anaheim. All in all, Watson has totaled a line of 4G/2A/6PTS in his seven games. The Nashville Predators have faced adversity in recent weeks, but with Watson in the lineup, the Predators do have a winning record (4-3).
Watson has also proven to be adaptable to game flow. In 5v5 play, Watson has generated 6 iHDCF which is tied for 10th on the team. He’s seen only 55 seconds of time on the power play, but guess what? He scored a goal. And while two PPGs have been scored against the Predators while Watson was on the ice, he’s improved his advanced statistics. His on-ice percentages of CF, FF, SF, and HDCF are the highest they’ve ever been on the penalty kill.
With his suspension behind him, Austin Watson seems to have set out to prove himself to the team, and maybe even the fans. In his first seven games back, his impact has been witnessed in a variety of ways. It’s apparent that Watson wants to help the Nashville Predators win however he can.