When the Nashville Predators claimed Brandon Yip off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche in January, he joined a team that was already rich in forwards.
Nashville’s acquisition of Andrei Kostitsyn at the trade deadline and the return of Alexander Radulov three weeks later, without giving up any forwards, made things more complicated in terms of who would play and who would sit.
“It is definitely nice to be in the lineup. That is one of our strengths that we have so many players. Everyone who is out deserves to be in. It has been a great role to be on that fourth line,” Yip said.
The Vancouver native was among a select group of talented players fighting for positions on the third and fourth line, including rookie Craig Smith, Matt Halischuk and even Colin Wilson as well as Jordin Tootoo.
When the playoffs started, there was still some shuffling of players between Halischuk, Smith and Tootoo. Wilson remained a constant healthy scratch for the second consecutive postseason, and Yip found himself on the fourth line for the entire series against Detroit.
“Yipper plays consistent, and hard. It is good stuff for the playoffs. He keeps it simple and that is why they keep him in there,” center, and linemate, Paul Gaustad said of Yip’s play.
Nashville’s depth at forward is not only impressive, according to Detroit coach Mike Babcock, it was one of the reasons that the Red Wings got knocked out of the playoffs by the Predators.
“I thought their depth up front was better than our depth up front especially their third and fourth lines,” Babcock said. “I didn’t think we had enough up front, and I think it showed in our scoring.”
Yip had one assist during the five-game series against Detroit.
“[I] just play my game and keep it simple, working hard down low, and [play] physical. It will be a lot more physical in the second series, and that is something I bring to the table,” Yip said.
A physical presence is not the only thing Yip brings to the game.
“He has been a guy who, down the stretch, was very consistent,” Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “He is strong on the wall. We had trouble with some of our wingers turning over pucks along the wall. He was probably the most consistent guy.
“He gives us some bang. He is poised with the puck. He started killing some penalties for us—not a lot, but he can. He can play left and right wing. That is one of the things that cemented him into that role, especially during the first series, because you can’t turn pucks over against the Red Wings. He was really good at not doing that.”
At Thursday’s practice, Yip skated on a line with Smith and Gaustad. Based on the lines at practice, the scratches for Game 1 against the Phoenix Coyotes are likely to include Tootoo, Wilson and Halischuk.
Game 1 is scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT on Friday, April 27th, at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona.