When a player the elite caliber of Roman Josi just looks ordinary, it makes you wonder, and that’s kind of what he’s been so far for the Nashville Predators in 2023-24.
We hold players like Josi to an enormously high standard, so when we see them kind of be unnoticeable it does make you worry a bit.
Josi has yet to score a goal in the first seven games, but is among the NHL leaders in shots on goal without actually lighting the lamp yet.
Most shots without a goal this season:
— CapFriendly Depth Charts (@CF_DepthCharts) October 27, 2023
What’s Causing Josi’s Slow Start to 2023-24?
There’s a lot of factors into why Josi is off to a slow start, at least by his lofty standards of being a former 96-point scorer and a Norris Trophy winner. My first inclination to why Josi hasn’t flourished yet through seven games is this team is still figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
I’ll admit that with all of the hype surrounding Head Coach Andrew Brunette‘s aggressive offensive style he was implementing that it would stand to really benefit Josi maybe more so than any other player on the Predators.
With the full understanding that this is only through seven games so it’s a small sample size, Josi is currently averaging under 24 minutes of average time on ice which would be his lowest since his second year in the NHL in 2012-13. That’s still good for the team lead among skaters.
Josi has always been an offensive first defenseman. Pushing the pace, using the transition game to create odd man rushes, and with that sometimes leaving the team vulnerable to counter attacks.
So yes, it is shocking that Josi has yet to score a goal on 24 shots, and has just three assists in those seven games. Two of those three assists are secondary assists.
Furthermore to add to the surprise that Josi hasn’t broken out offensively yet, he’s got an Offensive Zone Start % of 72.4 percent in all situations. He is spending a vast majority of his time in offensive situations.
This is significantly higher than any other time in Josi’s NHL career, with a 66.2 percent Offensive Zone Start % in John Hynes’ final year as head coach.
No Reason to Worry Too Much About Josi…Yet
With it being still so early in the season, this isn’t something that should sound the alarms just yet. If anything, it should give you reason to think Josi will turn it around and is due for a hot streak.
Through seven games last season, Josi had just one point but eventually found his consistency we know him for, finishing with 59 points for his fourth-highest point total of his NHL career.
I’d be much more worried about Josi’s lack of offensive production if he wasn’t getting involved and finding shots. Now if this trend lingers deep into November, then we will have serious reason to be bothered.
Josi has been primarily playing with Dante Fabbro as his defensive partner on the top pairing. They have a 3.2 Expected Goals for as a pair, which is 37th among defensive pairings in the NHL. Not necessarily horrendous, but certainly not outstanding either for a top defensive pairing.
Defensively speaking Josi and Fabbro have paired well together and I’m all for keeping them together on the top pairing. At this early point you keep the defensive pairings intact and continue to build that vital chemistry.
It’s also important to remember that Josi has never been a massive goal producer, with a single season career high of 23 goals in his 96-point campaign in 2021-22, and 18 goals last season. But we definitely want to see him generating more primary assists and getting more involved.
Josi is also second among defensemen in Expected Goals with 1.7. That only trails Cale Makar. You’d like to see Josi get more dangerous shots on net, but at least he’s involved.
You put all of this into a blender and come up with an end result that tells me not to be paranoid that Josi is lighting up the box score with points right now. Give it time to simmer, and I suspect the points will start come in barrages eventually.
Luckily for the Predators, they’ve gotten help up and down the lineup with scoring. Players like Kiefer Sherwood, Thomas Novak, Colton Sissons and even Cole Smith for one game have picked up the slack from a lack of scoring from the top of the lineup.
We have to trust the process here and wait for the law of averages to hopefully turn back in Josi’s favor. There’s a lot of indications that Josi will eventually catch a hot streak and not look so ordinary like he has through the first seven games.