A little change and things are back to normal.
Not only are the Nashville Predators scoring at a more respectable rate again, but the players they count on to get those goals actually are doing so once again.
Coach Barry Trotz shuffled the lines prior to last Saturday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes and the results have been obvious. After having been held to a single goal in four of the previous five games (and six of the previous nine), the Predators scored five against the Hurricanes and responded with four more Tuesday at Colorado — both victories.
They look to continue that surge Thursday with another game against Colorado, this one at Bridgestone Arena.
“I think sometimes they just need to be changed,” Trotz said. “Certain guys sort of went dry or there were certain lines that … they were working hard but there was no results. Sometimes you just tweak them a little bit and they get a little new energy.”
Actually, the argument can be made that the offense has not been better at any time during the current season. The last two games represent the first time Nashville has scored at least four times in back-to-back outings.
Part of that has to do with the fact the line changes brought about ends to a couple notable slumps all at once.
Patric Hornqvist scored twice against Carolina after having found the back of the net just once in the previous 12. He added one more at Colorado, the first time in two months he had goals in consecutive contests.
The breakout came after he moved to the right wing alongside Colin Wilson and David Legwand. Prior to that he spent an extended stretch with Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsysn.
“When you change the lines up, you know we have to be better,” Hornqvist said.
Craig Smith also scored against the Hurricanes. That was his first in 15 games and only his second in 26 outings. He had been the right wing with Legwand and Martin Erat but finally scored after he moved to center between Jerred Smithson and Matt Halischuk.
“Playing on the wing, he didn’t score a whole lot,” Trotz said. “I put him back in the middle and — lo and behold — he gets a goal.”
Erat, now playing right wing with Fisher and Kostitsyn, has one goal and three assists in the last two games.
Hornqvist is Nashville’s leader in goals with 12. Erat and Smith are the two highest scoring forwards with 27 and 26 points, respectively.
“Just changing their outlook a little bit and moving people around sometimes works,” Trotz said. “Sometimes it doesn’t.
“In a couple cases [this time] it did.”