Predators look to grow offense by getting smaller up front

Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 10:25pm

The Nashville Predators have become something of an NHL sideshow. They are now the team of the amazing shrinking forwards.

In the span of four days, three players were added to the roster – all by different means. Linus Klasen was recalled from Milwaukee on Sunday, Chris Mueller was signed to a contract on Monday and Marek Svatos was claimed off waivers Wednesday.

None of the three are listed at taller than 5-foot-10 or heavier than 185 pounds. Together, they doubled the number of forwards shorter than 6-foot on the current Nashville roster.

“We’re going to have to weigh that a little bit – they’re smallish guys,” coach Barry Trotz said. “They’re [also] a little more skilled. Right now, we’re lacking a little offense. Therefore, we’re leaning a little more toward the offensive guys.

“Would we like to be bigger? Yes. But there’s nothing they can do about that.”

They are, however, set to do what any oddity should. They’re going to take the show on the road.

Beginning Friday at Minnesota, Nashville will play 12 of its next 15 games on the road. That stretch extends through January and includes swings through California and western Canada.

One of the only three home games is 5 p.m. Sunday against Columbus.

“Obviously, we’re not the biggest of teams,” center David Legwand said. “But it’s a different league now. Before the lockout [that canceled the 2004-05 season] all the guys were huge. Now you need guys who can skate, smaller guys and skilled guys.”

Svatos (5-10, 185) joined the team Thursday morning. After he completed his medical tests, he stepped on to the ice for the final 20 minutes of the day’s practice session at Centennial Sportsplex – and was greeted by an ovation from the small gathering of fans on hand to watch the workout.

“They probably gave me the applause for actually showing up,” he said.

Whether or not he actually can inject some life into the Predators’ attack remains to be seen.

The 28-year-old scored 32 goals as a rookie with Colorado in 2005-06 and averaged nearly 25 through his first three NHL seasons. He then scored just 21 combined in the last two campaigns and had a career-low 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in 54 games in 2009-10.

“The last couple years I kind of struggled, you can say, scoring goals,” he said. “I had the opportunities. I just couldn’t put the puck in the net. I’m just going to try to get my scoring touch back. Hopefully it’s going to go in and I’m going to get my confidence back.”

Klasen has yet to score in three games with Nashville this season, and Mueller was shut out in his NHL debut Tuesday.

Both figure to need time to adjust to the speed and the demands of the NHL.

Svatos merely needs to readjust after having spent the first part of this season playing in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. He went there when no NHL team was willing to sign him during the offseason.

“There’s lots of good stories of guys that are with our team – guys like Marcel Goc or [Jerred Smithson] – guys other organizations let go or were having trouble getting work,” Trotz said. “All of the sudden they came in and thy were real good for us and played a number of years.

“This might be a real good story.”

Regardless, it’s not going to be a tall tale.

Briefly

• Legwand said he is ready to play against Minnesota.

He has been limited to just 18 games this season and has played just once – and saw only limited action – since mid-November.

“I thought I was ready and tweaked it the first or second shift of that game,” Legwand said. “It’s something you have to live with.

“I’m excited to get back and help the guys out,” Legwand said.
 

1 Comment on this post:

By: MusicCity615 on 12/31/10 at 2:18

If we can get through this road stretch and get healthy, I think we have a great shot of not only going to the playoffs, but advancing in the playoffs.

GO PREDATORS!