Predators' top line top of the line, but rest of forwards lacking in production
A defender clinging to him, Filip Forsberg peppered the puck off his stick while skating toward goalie Pekka Rinne during Predators practice Monday at Bridgestone Arena.
It came to rest in Rinne's glove, having never touched the ice — or the back of the net, surprisingly — during the sequence.
Though it didn't go in this time, Forsberg has made the puck his personal puppet this season, his latest trick his sixth career hat trick on Saturday.
Going into Tuesday's game against Vegas, he had 10 goals in 11 games, the most by a Predator to start a season. In the process, Forsberg broke the franchise record of eight in October, which he set last year.
He had 15 scoring chances during Saturday's 5-3 loss against the Oilers, the most in the league in one game since the beginning of the 2015-16 season.
The Predators' top line of Forsberg (10 goals, 4 assists), Ryan Johansen (2 goals, 11 assists) and Viktor Arvidsson (7 goals, 4 assists) accounted for 19 goals and 19 assists through 11 games.
"You can’t really expect numbers. You can't just go by the numbers," said Forsberg, who deflected most credit to Johansen and Arvidsson. "The league is too good to expect that. ... I want to be on the scoresheet. I got a few goals the other night but it didn’t end up in a win."
The second, third and fourth lines, as far as offensive production goes, not so much.
The rest of the team's forwards had combined for 11 goals and 18 assists going into Tuesday. Those numbers are something coach Peter Laviolette can't help but go by, at least partially.
"Those ... are real numbers, and it’s not good," Laviolette said. "We’re looking for some support underneath that top line, making sure we’re attacking the game offensively. Sometimes you have to see things going on offensively, even if it's not going in the net."
The bottom line is, Laviolette would like to see more scoring chances beyond those created by the top line.
The Predators might very well need them this week, which began with Tuesday's game against the Knights and continued Thursday against the Lightning and Saturday against the Bruins.
"We have Tampa Bay coming up from the east, probably should circle that one," Laviolette said. "We just played Winnipeg and Minnesota; we probably should have circled those. New Jersey was a top team in the East last year. I’m glad we circled that one.
"Tell me one where I don’t have to circle it and I'm going to sleep in."
As for Forsberg, Johansen and Arvidsson, they'd like to continue to keep other teams up at night.
"We try to do a little bit of everything," Forsberg said. "(Johansen) is pass-first; 'Arvy' is shoot-first and I try to do a little bit of both. That works really good for everybody."
The Predators just need everybody else to step up.
Reach Paul Skrbina at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @PaulSkrbina.