Nashville Predators: Nick Bonino Line Keeping the Season Afloat

Nick Bonino #13 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Nick Bonino #13 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Never thought I’d write that headline, but the Nashville Predators still have a pulse thanks to an unlikely source.

You just never really know what’s going to happen in hockey compared to other sports, and that’s why true fans can’t get enough of it.

The Nashville Predators have been an enigma this season. You never know what extreme of this team you’re going to get from game to game.

It’s hard to find consistencies with this team, but one consistency you can find that’s on the positive end of the spectrum is the Nick Bonino line.

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A line you can count on

There was so much line shuffling early on in this season under Peter Laviolette. Some of that was unavoidable due to injuries to key players, but some of it was overkill in my opinion.

Since John Hynes has taken over behind the bench, the Predators have still had some roster shakeups but not as much.

Then you have the third line that has mostly been kept intact on a consistent basis. The trio of Bonino, Craig Smith and Rocco Grimaldi have been heroes to keeping this season alive.

The most recent example of this line showing up in a big way was last night’s win over the New York Islanders, which ended in a 5-0 shutout win to get the Predators within striking distance of a wildcard spot:

Pretty amazing statistic there from Predators PR. But it’s not just a random occurrence. These three have been the most consistent all season, aside from Roman Josi.

Bonino, Smith and Grimaldi comprise of three of the top five spots on the team in plus/minus this season. They’re a combined plus-51, so saying they’re keeping this team afloat might be an understatement.

Smith has risen from the dead since mid-December when he had just two goals. He’s up to 16 goals on the season now and just capped off his first career NHL hat trick last night.

Furthermore, Smith has a realistic shot at leading the team in goals for the season, but only if the team doesn’t trade him away before the deadline in ten days.

Bonino is another possible trade block casualty. He has one season left on his current contract, and has definitely raised his market value this season.

I can’t see Grimaldi going anywhere, but what a season he’s having as well. He’s up to 28 points, which is more than half of his NHL career total.

You just have to love the grit, hustle and overall consistency that you get from this line. It’s a reason why Hynes usually doesn’t break them up, unlike other lines.

You can’t break this line up

The more this line continues to surge, and the closer the Predators get to being in a wildcard spot, the more I’m thinking GM David Poile isn’t going to touch these players at the deadline.

There’s five games remaining for the Predators before the February 24th trade deadline. Five games for the Predators to convince Poile that there’s reason to fight this one out and keep the high-performing players like the Bonino line.

If any of these players are dealt at the trade deadline, it’ll be my belief that the Predators are essentially giving up on this season and looking ahead into the offseason and beyond.

Furthermore, imagine how dominant this team can become if the perceived stars of the team begin living up to expectations.

I’m calling out players like Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen to answer the call to play as hard and aggressive as the Bonino line is playing.

I applaud the tactics of Hynes decreasing ice time to players not stepping up, even if they’re big-time stars of the team. It’s about who is laying it all out there, and I’m all for the Bonino line getting as much ice time as they possibly can.

I’m holding out hope that this entire team is going to start clicking as a whole just like last night. However, it might very well end up looking different two weeks from now.

Must Read. My Heart Can't Take Losing Craig Smith at Trade Deadline. light

With that said, the Bonino line is one we can trust pretty easily to show up and do what they can to carry the Predators to sixth-straight playoff appearance.