When the Nashville Predators were winning the bottom six was scoring. It’s important to figure out What’s the best bottom six the Predators can run?
The Nashville Predators are in the midst of going down a rocky road in these last few games while relying on the top two lines to score. The bottom six forwards have almost been nonexistent in these past few games minus Nick Bonino, who has been outstanding this season.
With the bottom six not performing how they should it asks what are the perfect lines for the third and fourth lines should be. There’s been no shortage of shuffling the line combinations from game to game, but much of the changing has occurred between the top two lines.
The Third Line
The third line right now is the better of the two lines with Bonino being on it. You can definitely see that he’s been performing well. He is also ranked the 54th-best center in the league according to dailyfaceoff.com, which is a very good number for a third line center.
So with these numbers, Bonino should stay on the third line where he has been very productive. His left winger on that side should be Calle Jarnkrok. This move would put Kyle Turris to the first line right wing and Mikael Granlund going to the second line left wing. Jarnkrok, while scoring some key goals as of late, has not been performing up to a second line standard with only six goals and six assists, especially when someone like Turris is performing well when he is played on a top-six line.
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If Jarnkrok were to be moved to the third line his play style would better fit being alongside Bonino with Craig Smith on that right wing. Smith fits that third line as well with being a true two-way forward who scores and plays well on defense whether it be five-on-five or on the penalty kill.
These three players in my opinion deserve to be the Predators third line due to their abilities to both score goals and play a good two-way game. Bonino and Smith have been regulars on the third line, but Jarnkrok has bounced all over the lineup throughout the season.
The Fourth Line
The fourth line, on the other hand, has definitely not been performing up to acceptable standards. Rocco Grimaldi would go to the fourth line right wing with Turris moving up and Jarnkrok moving down to the third line.
Colton Sissons will also stay on the the fourth line, although he isn’t currently performing at his best. If the right players were to be put on his line like Grimaldi, it’ll help his scoring and offensive production.
The last player on the fourth line could be a multitude of players including Daniel Carr, Austin Watson, Yakov Trenin, Anthony Richard and Miikka Salomäki. In my opinion, Carr and Trenin are the most deserving of the last spot due to their scoring abilities and by looking at their high ceilings. We know what we have with certain players in the bottom six, but Carr or Trenin could bring something new to the table.
Salomäki and Watson, however, are not having the seasons that the Predators need right now. When looking at both of their point productions they aren’t what players of their caliber should be producing. The two have four goals between the two of them and seven points.
Watson has six of those seven points and a Corsi at just 45 percent. His advanced offensive numbers are slumping as well like his expected goal for per 60 minutes of time on ice, per Evolving-Hockey.com. Now we’re not saying Watson should never be in the lineup, but perhaps trying something new could ignite the bottom six and help with more depth scoring.
With the games that both Carr and Trenin play by being fast, score-first games, these two might be more beneficial to the fourth line. I believe that if Trenin or Carr play on that left wing on the fourth line then the line’s production would increase in both offense and defense.
Overall, if the Predators were to optimize their lines to lines suggested it might inject new energy into the bottom six . All together, the bottom six line combinations should be changed up. The Predators need to get out of their rut quickly, and it might take making a bold move by calling up someone from the Milwaukee Admirals and giving a healthy scratch to a veteran.
This might not be a popular opinion, but the Predators have to figure something out because what they’re doing now isn’t working. You have to make bold moves, and this would be my perfect bottom six to experiment with.
Perfect Bottom Six