Previewing the Predators’ forwards for 2011-12, part two…

2011-12 Preview (2nd line)

THIS IS THE SECOND IN OUR MULTI-PART SERIES PREVIEWING THE 2011-12 NASHVILLE PREDATORS ROSTER. A NEW INSTALLMENT WILL BE POSTED DAILY, THROUGH AUGUST 26.

If you missed yesterday’s post featuring Sergei Kostitsyn, Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist, CLICK HERE.

PROJECTED LINE #2 || Martin Erat – David Legwand – Blake Geoffrion
Martin Erat has been atop the Predators scoring list for several seasons. In his last seven years, he’s averaged 52 points a season and been in the top five in team scoring in each of those years. His problem is that he doesn’t start showing up on the scoresheet until December, leaving a lot to be desired early on. Last year, he produced just six points through the months of October and November. In 2009-10, he was only a shade better, posting just nine in the same span. Luckily for Erat, he’s also good at the other end of the ice and that’s where he compliments his centerman. It may be asking too much given his recent history, but if Erat can find some consistency early on in the NHL calendar, we could see a career year from the Czech winger.
2011-12 PREDICTION: 52 points

David Legwand, the aforementioned centerman, is known as a “shutdown center” as opposed to an offensive-minded one. Legwand and Erat have been paired together since the days of Paul Kariya, so it can be safely assumed that they’ll skate side-by-side once again. Their linemate, however, is the question. The two veterans had some great chemistry with Joel Ward but he has since moved onto the Washington Capitals. Ward fit in perfectly because he was willing to drive to the net, he was willing to go after pucks in the corners and was willing to take abuse, all in an effort to make plays. Who, in the Predators system, will be ready to step and fill his role?
2011-12 PREDICTION: 45 points

Blake Geoffrion is not exactly a second line player. Not yet anyway. But, if you think about it, neither was Joel Ward. Ward had certain traits that complimented Legwand and Erat’s game and that’s what Geoffrion has. The great-grandson of Howie Morenz, the grandson of the late, great “Boom Boom” Geoffrion and the son of Dan Geoffrion, Blake was thrust into the Predators lineup last season after a rash of injuries at the forward position. Most experts would’ve said he was at least another year away from being ready. But all he did once he got to Music City was bag six goals in his first 11 contests, including three in a game the Predators had no business winning up in Buffalo, New York on March 20. The kid they call “Bam Bam” is probably the heir apparent to Ward’s spot on the second line. But will it happen this season? And will it happen as soon as opening night? He plays a strong two-way game (which is required on that line, in particular), he can get timely goals (as Ward did) and he’s not afraid to go into the tough areas to make plays. Heck, all six of his goals came from doing “the little things” right. That’s not to take away from the finesse side of his game but he knows, this early in his career, he’s got to play smart to stick around. And doing “the little things” is smart. And, if that includes dropping the gloves from time-to-time, apparently he’s okay with that too.
2011-12 PREDICTION: 38 points

PHOTOS COURTESY: Bridget Samuels and Sarah Fuqua