Originally written on Inside Smashville  |  Last updated 11/5/14

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 14: Martin Erat #10 of the Nashville Predators handles the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the NHL game February 14, 2007 at Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Gett

Entering Tuesday night’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks, the Nashville Predators are 12-3-0 since the turn of the calendar year. While a lot of attention has been given to Nashville’s Vezina Trophy nominated goaltender, Pekka Rinne, who is riding an 11-game winning streak, up front it is Predators forward Martin Erat who quietly leads the way.

Erat has 39 points in 45 games this season, including 12 goals and 27 assists. His totals are good for nearly a point per game, with the Czech native posting 4 goals and 12 assists for 16 points since January 1st.

Furthermore, Erat has amassed 9 points, including 2 goals and 7 assists in his last seven games. On Saturday night, the right wing forward picked up his 12th goal of the season and assisted on Nashville’s other two tallies in the Predators 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Drafted in the seventh round, 191st overall in 1999, Erat has been a fixture in the Predators lineup since 2001.

But there is something different about Erat this year and the forward says it is all about his health. After missing eight games after the season opening contest in Columbus with an upper-body injury, Erat has remained in the lineup.

“I have no injuries,” Erat explained. “Always before, I have had some injuries during the season and I would miss 10 or 11 games in the middle of the season or even more than that. It takes time to really get back when returning to the lineup. Right now, I have no injuries and that is probably the reason,” Erat said as he knocked on the wall of the locker room facilities at Centennial Sportsplex where the Predators practice.

Erat currently plays on Nashville’s top line with Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn. Offensively, Erat, Fisher and Kostitsyn have been putting on a clinic for all to see. Kostitsyn has 14 points in 15 games, including 8 goals and 6 assists.
Fisher has 15 points in his last 16 games, including 9 goals and 6 assists.

Fisher says once the line was able to play together for a while they were able to put some points up on the board. “I missed the first little bit of the season. Marty missed some time. Sergei played hurt for a while. We struggled for the first few games, especially on the road. It has been nice to finally be able to come together,” Fisher said, adding, “We have been scoring. We need to keep going because we need to provide some offense for this team.”

The former Ottawa Senator, who the Predators visit later this week, credits Erat for a lot of the line’s success. “Marty works real hard and gets in those areas. He is really hungry and strong on the puck. He does everything. He makes great plays. He’s been great for us.”

Erat has been producing in clutch situations for Nashville. Seventeen of his 39 points have come in the last five minutes of regulation, including 5 goals and 12 assists. David Legwand says Erat is playing some of the best hockey of his career this season. “He has been huge. Obviously he is a good hockey player. He is skating. He is working and he is at his best right now,” Legwand said.

When Erat scores a goal, Nashville is 10-1-0, the only loss coming against the Dallas Stars on December 23rd. At home, the Predators are a perfect 7-0-0 when Erat finds the back of the net.

But Erat is not only an offensive-minded player.

Nick Spaling, who plays on average just over 2 minutes a game on the penalty kills says Erat’s defensive side is often overlooked. “A lot of people look at him as just an offensive player, but his defensive play goes unnoticed. At the end of a tight game, he is the one who is usually on the ice. That is something a lot of people don’t see.”

“He does it all. He plays on the power play and penalty kill and he is always creating chances at even strength. He is always putting points up and giving other guys he plays with the opportunity to put points up. He is a real valuable player for us. Going forward, he will help us going down the road,” Spaling added.

Erat averages over a minute per game on the penalty kill.

Another penalty killer, Matt Halischuk, says the Predators themselves know what they have in Erat. “I think everyone in this room knows what he can do on the penalty kill. He is a really smart player, and everyone knows it. He is one of our leaders. He isn’t underrated in this room, but around the League he might be.”

Head Coach Barry Trotz agrees. “The thing about Marty is he’s scoring in different ways. How many slapshots have you seen him take in fourteen years? Not a lot, but he’s doing that more. I like the fact that Marty isn’t just playing one way, he’s adapting to the game.  To me he’s one of the most underrated players in the league,” Trotz said after Erat’s three-point night on Saturday.

 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

 

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Arizona flights delayed due to dense fog

Report: Peyton Manning likely to announce return shortly

Report: Jets, Bills expected to pursue Darrelle Revis

Falcons being investigated for fake crowd noise

Aaron Rodgers wins NFL MVP

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

VCU G Briante Weber suffers major knee injury in loss

Short selling leaves hundreds of fans without S.B. tickets

Hamilton, Edmonds' spouses to appear on 'Real Housewives'

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix trolls LSU over Kevin Steele hire

Jerome Bettis elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame

Report: Duncan suing financial adviser, lost $20 million

Tom Brady sounds fired up for Super Bowl

Deion Sanders’ charter school shut down

The six most popular players in Super Bowl XLIX

Tony Dungy voted for Bobby Wagner for NFL MVP

Patriots' footballs were 'just a few ticks' under limit?

2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class announced

Anderson Silva beats Nick Diaz in return to octagon

WATCH: 'SNL' mocks Super Bowl

Sabres had a horrific month of January

Ole Miss uses Katy Perry as prop in recruiting

PHOTO: Ezekiel Elliott gets new national title tattoo

WATCH: Rondo takes brutal knee to face from teammate

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Deion’s charter school shut down

Dungy cast the Wagner MVP vote

Report: Jets, Bills to pursue Revis

Did the Falcons pipe in crowd noise?

2015 Hall of Fame class announced

Aaron Rodgers wins NFL MVP

Tim Duncan suing financial adviser?

Five likely cap casualties of 2015

Making the case for NFL co-MVPs

WATCH: Tom Brady sings about balls

Missy Elliott to join Katy Perry at SB?

Obama zings Pats over Deflate-gate

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.