The Nashville Predators have had tremendous success this postseason. We’ve talked at length about it in our roundtable and it doesn’t need much repeating. But while their spectacular run may come to an end with their number one center being injured, it’s important to remember that the Predators aren’t out yet and still have a chance.
After sustaining a left thigh injury in Game 4 on Thursday, Ryan Johansen required emergency surgery and will miss the rest of the playoffs. He’s expected to recover in two-to-three months but will no longer be able to help his club in the postseason, where he played a key role in the Predator’s success. While there’s still a chance the Predators can beat the Ducks in the series without him, it’s hard to understate his value to the team.
Through the first three rounds, Johansen leads the entire team in points with 13 and is fifth in goals. He also leads the team in even-strength scoring and is tied for the eighth most points in the entire playoffs. Throughout the postseason, he has averaged the second most ice time out of all forwards, behind only Filip Forsberg by a few seconds, and has played an integral role in the Predators offense.
But now with Johansen out of the lineup, the Predators are going to lose a lot of their offensive firepower and, more importantly, their center depth is going to take a dramatic hit. After Johansen, the Predators only have Fisher, Sissons, and Fiddler and it doesn’t look like any one of those players will be able to handle taking on Johansen’s responsibilities. Fisher has especially had a dreadful playoffs with no points through 14 games while Sissons and Fiddler are best suited for bottom-six roles. Sissons has been a nice surprise but is not well suited for a demanding, top-six role. Johansen was already leaned on pretty heavily to carry the Predators offense and his absence creates a huge hole in the lineup.
Without a ton of options, it looks like Mike Fisher will have to step up and break out of his slump, most likely taking over Johansen’s duties on the top line. Fortunately Filip Forsberg has also had a fantastic postseason so maybe Fisher playing with him will get him going. Colton Sissons has also had a good postseason in limited action so it’s not crazy to hope that he performs admirably in an increased role. It’s still possible that the Preds will be able to hang on without Johansen and generate the bulk of their offense through the wingers like Forsberg, Neal, and Arvidsson. The Predators offense has been great throughout the postseason, scoring 38 goals for the fourth most in the postseason.
And let’s not forget Nashville still arguably has the best blueline in the playoffs with P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and more. All three of those defenders have averaged over 25 minutes a night while providing exception defense and additional offensive help, with each scoring at least nine points already through the playoffs. In 14 games, the Predators have only allowed 24 goals and are well known as one of the best defensive teams in the league. If their offense takes a hit from the loss of Johansen, hopefully the defense can step up and take over the series.
People are already counting out the Predators now that Johansen is injured but don’t be so quick to think they’re done. While losing Johansen hurts, the Predators can still be a dangerous team to contend with without him.