Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Last updated 11/1/11
Before the season started, Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said he would give his team until Nov. 15 before he started tinkering with the roster in the event that things were not going smoothly. After some early stumbles, the Preds appear to have righted the ship for the most part. They went through a 1-4-1 stretch, but have a 3-1-1 record in the past five games. Nashville's 12 points have them eighth in the Western Conference and four points behind Central Division leader Chicago. However, 12 points in 11 games isn't the kind of pace that is likely to land a team in the postseason, and the Preds certainly need to fire on all cylinders at some point. Here is a look at the good and the bad to this point: Good sign: Right wing Patric Hornqvist has four goals in his past three games after going scoreless in his first seven. Hornqvist has battled a lower-body injury and last week, right before his offensive outburst, coach Barry Trotz said he was limiting Hornqvist's ice time partly due to injury and partly due to ineffective play. Hornqvist's production dropped last season to 21 goals from 30 the year before, but the past few games represent an encouraging sign that he can return to his '09-10 form. Bad sign: Shea Weber, a Norris Trophy finalist last season, has only one goal. Last season Weber scored 16, tying for fourth most in the NHL by a defenseman and fifth overall on his team. Nashville needs more offense out of him, especially considering Weber's salary cap figure (7.5M) is the largest for a defenseman in the NHL. Good sign: He wasn't great in Monday's 5-4 overtime loss to Chicago, but goalie Pekka Rinne has two shutouts in his past five games. When the team was looking like it might go off the rails on a recent trip to Western Canada, Rinne almost single-handedly pulled it back on with a 2-0 win over Calgary. The 2011 Vezina Trophy finalist looks as if he is picking up where he left off last season. Bad sign: Mike Fisher, perhaps one of the Predators' best players, has played only three games as a result of offseason shoulder surgery and now an upper body injury as a result of a controversial hit by Anaheim's Francois Beauchemin on Saturday. (Trotz said he wanted the league to review the hit, but it did not.) Fisher, who has two goals and two assists, did not travel to Chicago for Monday's game. He's planning on going with the team on its four-game trip that starts on Thursday in Phoenix and continues in California. The Preds need a healthy Fisher to be successful. Good sign: With four goals and five assists in 11 games, rookie Craig Smith is putting himself in contention for the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. He is tied with Hornqvist for the team lead in goals (4) and ranks second on the squad in points (9). Bad sign: The second defensive pair has struggled. Kevin Klein, third on the team in ice time per game, is a team-worst minus-8 and Jon Blum, still technically a rookie, is minus-4. Trotz has been slow to give veteran Francis Bouillon big minutes, as Bouillon just recovered from a a concussion that sidelined him for 10 months and returned to the lineup for the first time last Tuesday. When Bouillon, averaging 17:45 so far, is ready for heavier minutes, he could get moved up to the second pair, where he has played before. That would help to solidify the team's defense. Good sign: Left wing Sergei Kostitsyn, last season's leader in goals, has shown that he also is picking up where he left off. He has three goals and five assists in nine games but has missed the past two games with an injury. It's a good thing that they're still scoring without Kostitsyn in the lineup. Bad sign: Niclas Bergfors and Blake Geoffrion, also still technically a rookie, have one goal combined in 16 games. Bergfors' play has been limited to five games and his 7:19 per game is second-lowest among players on the active roster. A former 20-goal scorer and all-rookie team member, the Swede is not yet showing the signs of progress Nashville hoped for when it signed him as a reclamation project. While it doesn't look for much goal-scoring from Geoffrion, who centers the team's fourth line, it does require balance, and no goals in 11 games from any forward is too low. Good sign: David Legwand, who has been with the team since its inception, is on a career-best pace with 11 points in 11 games. Getting that kind of production out of Legwand is an unexpected boost. The Preds' biggest issue might be injuries. Both Fisher and top-six forward Martin Erat have missed eight of 11 games, and checking-line forward Nick Spaling is on injured reserve. Poile said in late September that injuries would be one reason to make a move if the organization's depth indicated it were not sufficient. "That's one thing you try to find out about training camp is what kind of depth you have," he said. "We think we have pretty good depth in all of our positions. As a manager you know you're not going to be successful and win with 20 guys. It's closer to 27 or 28 guys if you really get through an 82-game schedule and the playoffs." The Preds apparently gave up on forward Cal O'Reilly after five games with only one assist, sending him to Phoenix last week for a fourth-round pick. Then when they found themselves short on Monday, they ended up calling Ryan Thang from Milwaukee (AHL) to make his NHL debut. That's testing the team's depth. We'll see if Nashville makes some moves over the next few weeks.
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