If anyone would have guessed that Predators forward Nick Spaling would be playing first line or powerplay minutes for Nashville in mid-December, it would have been a small group. Scoring a powerplay goal tonight in Nashville’s 4-3 overtime loss against the Montreal Canadiens, Spaling has now scored two goals and an assist in his previous six games.
Coming off an off-season that saw Spaling and the Predators nearly reach arbitration, ending before the arbitration occurred and both parties agreeing on a one-year contract, Spaling has been nothing less than a quiet force on Nashville’s lineup lately.
“It’s been a little bit of a rough go here the last couple weeks around here. It’s about the team, at this point. That’s just the focus, righting the ship here in Nashville. We have to turn things around and get back on the winning track,” said Spaling.
Spaling, most notably a center, has not only been playing his usual lineup position, however has played on the wing this season as well, including tonight against the Canadiens.
“Yeah, he’s playing really well, I think. [Spaling] is doing all the right things. He always does, he’s a responsible player,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz.
Nashville was hoping they’d have a better return from more of their traditional top six forwards in their lineup. As of late, though, the Predators are having trouble finding any semblance of offense. Seeing typical third and fourth line players climb the scoring ranks for Nashville over the past handful of weeks, Trotz is giving chances to players who are ready to take advantage of it.
“We’ve had some guys that probably you’d consider more offensive players not producing, so Nick has had the opportunity to move up in the lineup and he’s taken advantage of it,” said Trotz. “The powerplay, since Nick has been on it and especially that unit because the other unit has been pretty stable, but once he got on that unit it’s made a world of difference.”
The Predators have seen their powerplay numbers grow to 21% overall on the season, including registering a powerplay goal in each of their last five games going 2-2-1 overall in that span. Ultimately though, especially for Spaling, the results don’t seem to matter unless Nashville is leaving the building with two points at the end of the evening.
After coming back from a 3-0 first period deficit tonight against Montreal, Spaling had an all-too-common take on what will have to happen for Nashville to truly right their seemingly sinking ship:
“We have to build off tonight, we had a good second half. Gotta play sixty minutes, playing the full game like that, that will be the key to our success,” said Spaling.
Nashville will need a sixty minute effort on Monday night with the Boston Bruins coming to town. Building off a near upset comeback win against the Canadiens is definitely a place to start.
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