by Forechecker on 01/05/09 at 05:28 PM ET
Egad! I head out of town for a New Year’s visit to Chicago, and by the time I get back, the Predators have sunk to 14th in the West, with the worst Goals Per Game figure (2.40) in the conference.
On the positive side, however, we actually have word today that Steve Sullivan plans to return to the lineup soon, just short of two years since his last game. Even in limited ice time, Sully should make a positive impact on the Preds offense, but I’m thinking a few more things need to be done to spark the Nashville attack…
1. Send Antti Pihlstrom back to Milwaukee. Pihlstrom reminds me of a former boss who used to say “Efforts appreciated, results preferred.” The little Finn hustles and hits with abandon, but his lack of size minimizes the effectiveness of his aggressive play. One goal and two assists in 18 games is unacceptable.
2. If 3 points in 18 games stinks, so does 6 points in 36, which is exactly what Jordin Tootoo has delivered so far (3 goals, 3 assists). He’s probably the first candidate to sit in the press box to make room for Sully’s return. Other veteran underachievers (Radek Bonk, Vern Fiddler, etc.) are also undeserving of guaranteed rosters spots each night, and opening a competition for ice time might be the best way to light a fire under them.
3. On defense, sit one of the Gregs so that Ville Koistinen and Kevin Klein can both play; stalwart stay-at-home defensemen are nice, but if you spend too much time in your own end, even if you play well, bad things will happen. VK and KK are much more dynamic offensively.
4. Take Rich Peverley or perhaps call up AHL Player of the Month Mike Santorelli from Milwaukee, and make them the center on an offensively-oriented second line. Especially in light of Scott Nichol’s continued absence from the lineup, let David Legwand play the role of a shutdown defensive center, at which he can excel.
5. Recall Ryan Jones from the AHL; Steve Sullivan’s greatest impact is likely to be on the power play, and Jones is by far the best Predator at drawing calls and creating those special teams opportunities. Pairing him with Legwand can help overcome any defensive liabilities.
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