We got to see the JoFA line put back together for the Nashville Predators after being broken up before the season started.
There’s no arguing that the Nashville Predators have a very deep roster. The challenge is constructing the lines properly and putting players in the right place.
For the Predators, a lot of their recent success over the past few seasons can be credited to the JoFA line, or Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg. When Matt Duchene was acquired over the offseason, this trio was broken up. It left a void on the top line.
The JoFA line was put back together last night against the Detroit Red Wings, and everything went great after a rocky first period. That meant moving Calle Jarnkrok off the top line, along with some other interesting moves like moving Mikael Granlund to the fourth line. It’s all about finding the perfect combination with the season still pretty young.
Should they stay together?
I have to admit it was fun at first seeing Duchene and Forsberg playing together to open the season. They were both firing on all cylinders initially. Forsberg scored a goal in five of his first six games, and points in all six. Then he got hurt against Vegas on October 15th and has slowly been working his way back to normal.
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Duchene had nine points in his first five games with the Nashville Predators. He’s cooled off since then with just four points, with two goals coming last night in the win over Detroit.
As great as it was seeing the two play together, perhaps the experiment is over. Maybe the best move all along would’ve been to leave the JoFA line together and find another talented winger with potential to elevate their game to play with Duchene.
You just can’t deny the outstanding chemistry that Forsberg, Arvidsson and Johansen have playing together. They know how to make each other the best they can be. Both Forsberg and Arvidsson have the capability to score 40-plus goals. Johansen is an assist machine when playing with those two.
Then you throw Duchene’s line out there and you have a lot of options on who should play with him. Whoever you go with, Duchene is going to make those players better. He’s going to find them good scoring chances and have strong shifts.
So the trio came back together against an inferior Detroit team that ended in a 6-1 Predators win. Forsberg scored his first goal since coming back from injury, and Johansen aded an assist. Arvidsson didn’t tally a point and was kept pretty tame offensively.
Who should play with Duchene
Now the big question is who should be the long-term answers to play with Duchene on the second line. After seeing the Predators play 14 games so far this season, I’ve come to the conclusion that Jarnkrok and Kyle Turris should be on that second line. I’m not please with what I’ve seen from Granlund so far, and Turris deserves that spot now.
Jarnkrok responded nicely by being called up to the top line. He definitely elevated his game during his time playing in those big minutes. With 11 points in his first 15 games, he’s on pace to easily shatter his career high of 35 points. Let’s see if he can maintain this pace. Odds are he won’t, but he may still set a new career high.
I think Turris has earned that right to get an increase in time on ice and would be more beneficial to the team playing with Duchene and Jarnkrok. That would be a fun line to watch who can generate plenty of offensive firepower.
After setting up your top two lines, the bottom six becomes a little more up for debate. I’d keep Nick Bonino locked in on the third line and play alongside Rocco Grimaldi and Craig Smith. That’s another formidable line that can generate plenty of offense. Very few teams can match that kind of depth.
The fourth line is obviously much more interchangeable, but Colton Sissons at center is where I’d start. Then you can fit in Austin Watson and that final spot can be Granlund on most occasions. You can’t help but be excited when you see the kind of amazing depth that the Nashville Predators have and how everything is constructed if the JoFA line stays together.