In our continuing efforts to unearth absolutely any information we possibly can regarding the Hawks' first round opponent Predators, we'll now take a look at the Preds' top two lines of a corps of forwards that averaged 2.65 goals per game (they allowed 2.70 goals per game) on 30.6 shots per game, again, both rank in the middle of the pack. Breakdown after the jump.
Colin Wilson - Jason Arnott - Martin Erat
|2009 - Colin Wilson||35||8||7||15||-2||7||1||0||3||0||58||13.8|
|2009 - Jason Arnott||63||19||27||46||0||26||6||0||3||0||216||8.8|
|2009 - Martin Erat||74||21||28||49||-7||50||5||0||2||0||168||12.5|
Nashville's top line boasts two of the more pesky Hawks killers in recent memory in Jason Arnott and Martin Erat, with rookie Colin Wilson along for the ride. While Arnott is in the downside of what's been a very good career, he can still produce, though not ideally cast as a top centerman. He still utilizes his size excellently down low in the offensive zone, is difficult to knock off the puck, is an adequate playmaker and goal scorer, though his proficiency at the dot as slipped a bit to sub-50%. He's flanked by Martin Erat, who Hawks fans all know scores goals against our Men of Four Feathers that are about as pleasant to watch as smashing your nuts with a ball-peen hammer. Colin Wilson has shown a fair amount of upside in his 35 games here in the show, and this will be his first post season. Arnott was once a top center on a Cup winner with New Jersey, and scored a cup-clinching goal with them in 2000, and currently sits on 64 points in 100 playoff games. Erat, on the other hand, has all of a whopping two goals in 20 playoff games, which suggests that when the intensity and physicality gets cranked up, he can be knocked off his game. But, none of those games have been against the Hawks, who Erat always seems to kill. Notice the two wingers on this line are carrying minuses, and Arnott is dead even, which suggests that their coverage in their own zone is lacking.
Steve Sullivan - Marcel Goc - Patric Hornqvist
|2009 - Steve Sullivan||82||17||34||51||2||35||5||0||4||0||152||11.2|
|2009 - Marcel Goc||73||12||18||30||10||14||0||0||1||0||118||10.2|
|2009 - Patric Hornqvist||80||30||21||51||18||40||10||0||8||0||275||10.9|
Nashville's second line boasts their two leading scorers in Sullivan and Hornqvist at 51 points a piece, with Hornqvist being their leading goal scorer with 30. All three skaters are pluses in +/-, but the line lacks a little bit in size (though any line with Sullivan would on averages alone). It truly has been remarkable what good guy Sullivan has been able to do after missing two calendar years of hockey with a myriad back issues. He's not as shifty as he used to be, but he's still got plenty of finish to him. Hornqvist has been something of a revelation as a late round pick to lead the Preds in goal scoring, and excels at parking his Swedish ass in front of the net. Goc is a decent two-way center and decent at the dot, which is what likely keeps the line on the positive side of the ledger at even strength. It will need to be a priority of the Hawks' defensemen to not allow Hornqvist to set up shop in front of the net, and to cut down on the diminutive Sullivan's time and space. Where it used to be difficult to impose physicality on Sullivan simply because you had to catch him first, that has become slightly less of an arduous task. And while no one wants liberties to be taken with good-guy Sullivan, there is a job to do, and making him pay a price for going to the harder areas of the ice.
We'll be by later tonight or tomorrow to discuss the bottom two lines which contain Mr. Congeniality Jordin Tootoo, and David Legwand, who looks like someone put out a forest fire on his face with a screwdriver.