Nashville Predators: An Epic Return of Ryan Johansen is a Must

Nashville Predators (Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
Nashville Predators (Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) /

At long last it appears that Nashville Predators hockey isn’t that far off in the distance, and that means it’s time to talk about players who need to rebound from last season.

I’m not ready to completely hold it against any player on the Nashville Predators for having a bad season in what was one of the wildest years in all of sports.

When it comes to looking at how the Predators performed last season and how it ended in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers unceremoniously, you don’t have to look very far to find the reasons.

One major player for the Predators that wasn’t himself last season was Ryan Johansen. In return, the team never really looked itself on a consistent basis. There were spurts, but nothing that made you think they were a legitimate contender.

It’s time to start thinking about how last season’s debacle on the ice doesn’t repeat itself. A return to form for Johansen would be a huge boost to the entire lineup.

Something didn’t add up last season

It’s hard to pinpoint why Johansen dropped off so badly last season, but there are definitely multiple factors that weren’t all on him.

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Johansen dropped from 50 assists in 2018-19 (third-most in team history) to a pedestrian 22 assists despite playing in 68 of 69 regular season games.

There was very little consistency with the top two lines as the Predators sputtered along and had to make a big push into March to narrowly grab the No.6 seed. Then the pause happened.

I’m fully confident in saying that a big reason Johansen dropped off so much was due to the midseason coaching change and no chemistry within the lineup.

Nothing clicked with this entire team, with the exception of a few, and that’s why you’ve seen a pretty decent roster shakeup over the offseason.

Expect Johansen to take command once again

Johansen is going to be much better this upcoming season. He’s going to turn back into the accurate distributor alongside his two long-time linemates, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson.

Check out this quote that Forsberg gave to Brooks Bratten back in August, shortly following the elimination from the Stanley Cup Qualifiers:

This gives me a lot of confidence in this line returning to top line form, with Johansen controlling puck possession and finding Forsberg for higher quality shots on goal.

The team’s offensive engine isn’t going to run properly without an effective Johansen leading the way.

A consistent run of Johansen, Forsberg an Arvidsson playing together on the same line will be very beneficial to the Predators and their hopes of putting up solid offensive numbers. Don’t mess with that line combination if you’re Head Coach John Hynes.

Johansen’s Corsi rating of 51.6 at even strength was his lowest since coming to the Predators four seasons ago. To put it into perspective, the season that the Predators went to the Stanley Cup he put up a 55.9 Corsi rating at even strength while putting up 61 points.

Another big factor into Johansen’s slip was he didn’t have any sort of an impact on the power play. Just six assists all season, which obviously has to change.

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The Predators can’t afford a repeat performance from Johansen as their top line center. He’s a major key to the Predators jumping back into being a top contender in the division, no matter which new teams might be joining them in the Central Division temporarily.

The odds are heavily against making the playoffs if your top line isn’t reliable. Johansen has to return to form and his old self, and I fully expect it to happen.

To Johansen’s credit and a reason to get you confident that he’s going to return to form is he put up an assist in each of the four games in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Arizona Coyotes. He finished off strong, even if the team didn’t.

Let’s leave you with a pic of a smiling Johansen recently at a recent practice session, because why not?