Less than a month before the trade deadline, the injury bug really clamped its teeth into the Nashville Predators and never let go. Somehow, the team stayed relevant in the playoff race up until now with three games left in the regular season.
Just take a quick look at these key injuries that the Nashville Predators have dealt with since February 11, the game when Filip Forsberg went out with a head injury:
What Could Have been if Nashville Predators didn’t Lose Josi?
Even before this rash of injuries occurred, the Nashville Predators were struggling to find the back of the net. They’ve had to win games the gritty way with hard forechecking, stellar goaltending and a much-improved penalty kill.
Saros has obviously taken his game to another level over the past few weeks to keep the Predators in close games without the goal support.
Even with all of that, it was hard to sustain and led to some heartbreaking losses and nights when the offense mustered up virtually nothing. Josi has been out since March 18 when he didn’t come back into the game following the first intermission against the Winnipeg Jets. A game the Predators would go on to lose 3-2 in overtime with only 20 shots on goal.
Following that game, the Predators would find ways to win some close, low-scoring games, and even put up seven goals on the Buffalo Sabres. But the Expected Goals more times than not has been drastically favored for the other team without Josi in the lineup.
You can call me crazy and delusional, but my prevailing belief is that if Josi never gets injured, the Predators are the ones in the playoffs and it’s the Jets having to play their way in currently. Just reverse the roles. Josi would’ve been good for at least a couple more Predators wins in low-scoring losses to the Maple Leafs, Penguins and Jets.
It’s been so painfully clear just how important Josi is to this team’s ability to produce offensive scoring chances. Especially on the power play, which has been shuffled around and missed their captain driving the transition.
When Josi went down, all I could do was shake my head and come to grips that this would be the one injury the Predators just wouldn’t be able to overcome. And even though it’s still likely they’ll miss the playoffs, wow was I ever wrong for doubting them to remain in the playoff race up past Game No.80.
Forsberg’s injury has also obviously been a difficult one to overcome for many of the same reasons as Josi, but the team has gradually gotten on without him and been fine. Over two months without Forsberg gave the team time to call some other guys up.
Josi’s injury coming this late in the season after the trade deadline gave the team very little time to figure out how they were going to adjust with him. Heck, you’re not replacing Josi, while at least with Forsberg you can plug some guys in and make due.
With two games left in the regular season and needing the Jets to lose in regulation in both of their remaining games, it’s just insane we’re even in this position when thinking about losing Josi three weeks ago after a heavy sell-off at the trade deadline.
Josi has 59 points in 67 games and remains the team leader in points, with injured Matt Duchene in second and Forsberg in third. Tommy Novak is fourth on the team in points with 41, while six of the Predators’ top-ten point scorers are either out with injury or have been traded.
It does appear that Josi is getting closer to being available to return. He made the trip to Calgary, but no other update has been given on his status for the last two games on Thursday and Friday.
If the Jets secure a point on Tuesday night, then the Nashville Predators will be eliminated and rushing Josi back will make no sense. However, if Thursday rolls around and the Predators are still in contention, perhaps we see the captain make a triumphant return in front of the Smashville faithful.