The Predators are only going to go as far as players like Filip Forsberg are going to carry them. The elite forward is off to a great start. His 33 points in 29 games (15 goals 18 assists) have him in the top 20 overall in points and among the top 15 goal-scorers in the league currently.
Forsberg is on pace to at least match his career season scoring output from the monstrous year that was 2021-22.
So what is it about this year? Why is Forsberg having such a great run? Sure we could give some credit to his new linemates and his coaching staff. The up-tempo style that Head Coach Andrew Brunette stresses provides for some high-energy and high-scoring games.
The talent around Forsberg, with Ryan O'Reilly as the true top line center and especially on the power play is great. He's had solid lineups before though.
Forsberg has primarily played on the top line with O'Reilly, but the introduction of Gus Nyquist as the other winger has really worked effectively as well. This line combo is 12th in the NHL in Expected Goals for among forward lines.
What has Changed for Forsberg this Season Compared to in the Past?
There is one simple aspect of his game, and of hockey in general, that Forsberg has changed. So far it is yielding fantastic results. He's made an effort to shoot the puck more. Way more. Through 29 games he's taken 113 shots that have landed on net.
For comparison, last season in 50 games Forsberg took 157 SOG. In his career high-scoring season he took 226 SOG and in his career high shooting season he managed 247, going back to 2015-16. At his current pace, he'll be by that mark somewhere around game 60 (give or take a few).
Why is shooting more so effective for Forsberg? He's got a great shot. A really great shot. His career shooting percentage in the NHL is 12.9%. That's a tenth higher than Alexander Ovechkin. This season he's scoring on about 13% of his shots, which is great. Every attempt Forsberg takes has a legitimate probability of going in.
It's also not just his shooting that is at a significant uptick. Forsberg's career high in assists for a season is 42 set in 2021-22, and currently he's at 18 assists. If he stays healthy, he should have a strong chance at breaking that personal best, or at least coming really close.
Forsberg only played in 69 games during that breakout 2021-22 campaign. Imagine the numbers Forsberg can put up if he gets to around 75 to 80-plus games this year?
With Forsberg's increased time on the ice (up to 19:04 from 17:28 last season), he is creating more. There are more shots, more opportunities, and chances for him and his linemates to profit. Hopefully the upward trends continue and we will see more than just a career high in shots.