Nashville Predators: Mikael Granlund Becoming the Hero We All Need

Matt Duchene #95 of the Nashville Predators congratulates teammate Mikael Granlund (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Matt Duchene #95 of the Nashville Predators congratulates teammate Mikael Granlund (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

For whatever reason, we just haven’t seen the perceived stars really shine this season for the Nashville Predators, aside from Roman Josi. That’s changing.

As the playoff push keeps heating up, and looking more hopeful, there’s one player driving that bus for the Nashville Predators.

Mikael Granlund is rising up to the challenge of living up to expectations that this talented roster has. If others start following suit, then this team can absolutely charge into the playoffs on an upswing and make things very interesting in their first-round matchup.

Of course they have to get there first. And there’ still a lot of work to do with 19 games remaining and the Predators operating on the slimmest of a margin for error.

The latest example of this is obviously last night’s thrilling win over the Calgary Flames, a team in direct competition with the Predators for one of the two wildcard spots with.

Hasn’t been a smooth ride

Granlund has gone through a rocky road to get to where he’s at now with this team. Just a couple months ago it seemed inevitable, at least to me, that he’d be traded before the trade deadline.

Well that day came and gone with Predators GM David Poile deciding to hold onto all of his best players and charge forward.

It’s a roll of the dice for sure, but Granlund is making his case that he can make a massive impact on pushing the Predators into their sixth-straight playoff appearance.

Granlund came here from the Minnesota Wild at last year’s trade deadline believed to be an offensive weapon that can push the Predators over the hump in the playoffs.

Problem was he never found that rhythm, and the Predators collectively fell apart in the first round of the playoffs to suffer the demoralizing early exit.

After nearly having two 70-point seasons with Minnesota previously, Granlund managed just a meager five points in 16 regular season games for the Predators last season.

A lot of things happened

Granlund wouldn’t be one to make excuses, but I’ll do that for him. First off, he had just had a newborn child upon joining his new team in the Nashville Predators.

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You’re moving into a new city, a new organization, learning a new system and trying to live up to the pressure of being a trade deadline prized acquisition.

That’s going to be tough on even the toughest of players, both mentally and physically.

Granlund also joined a team that had high aspirations to go deep in the playoffs, and not just be satisfied with division titles and Presidents’ Trophies.

Then you had problems arising with the system itself, led by Head Coach Peter Laviolette. It played a part in Laviolette eventually being fired this season, but those issues were already starting show their ugly face way back into last season.

Furthermore, the shuffling of lines and the miscarriage of putting players in the proper spots within the lineup didn’t help matters.

I actually think some of Granlund’s problems were just simply bad puck luck. Yes, that can actually happen for lengthy amounts of time, and the great ones know how to battle their way out of it and create their own luck.

Everything is coming together

Suddenly Granlund is starting to once again look like a 60-point scorer after another sluggish start to the 2019-20 season.

Since John Hynes took over as head coach just before the Boston game in early January, Granlund has 11 goals and 15 points. That’s over a span over 22 games, so much closer to the production we were expecting to get when he was originally traded here for Kevin Fiala.

His possession metrics look great as well and he’s finally getting rewarded for it. His Corsi percentage is up to 54.2 per Hockey Reference, and he’s finding his way into the offensive zone more often as well.

Surprisingly enough, Granlund has his Corsi percentage higher than it’s ever been in his NHL career as of now, and he’s got his shooting percentage up to over 14 percent. So his luck is finally turning around and evening out.

Granlund is an immensely talented skater and puck handler that can take over particular plays on his own. Just like Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, Craig Smith, Roman Josi and Viktor Arvidsson can.

That leads me to my next, and more important, point. If all of these insanely talented offensive weapons can start finding their grooves again as a collective unit, then the Predators will be a tough out for anyone in the playoffs.

Of course asking for everyone to elevate their games and play up to their max potential all at the same time is a tall order to achieve. This is one reason why winning the Stanley Cup is so incredibly difficult, and not just tied to how talented your roster is on paper.

It’s not all Granlund for why the Predators are trending back up in a positive direction. The team as a whole is proving they know how to respond to adversity again, and finding ways to win games even if they’re not playing their best for much of the game.

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When it comes to just Granlund, he’s playing the best hockey on the team right now along with Josi. He may even be moving past Josi slightly, but either way it’s a glorious thing to see.