Life without P.K. Subban has been a struggle for the Nashville Predators.
Not that they were some sort of juggernaut before he went on the shelf with an upper-body injury, but just consider:
— In their first 29 games, with Subban in the lineup, they went 13-12-4 and had the NHL’s fifth-best score-adjusted Corsi.
— In their last 11 games, without Subban, they’ve gone 4-4-3 and had the NHL’s 24th-best score-adjusted Corsi.
So, no, their records aren’t significantly different with or without Subban. But at the very least, when he was in the lineup, they generally controlled possession. And though possession isn’t everything in hockey, it’s not nothing.
Without the star defenseman, the Preds just aren’t the same team — no surprise there, given he was logging around 25 minutes a night and had seven goals and 10 assists before he went on injured reserve. To replace him, Matt Irwin has been bumped into the top four to skate with Mattias Ekholm. Irwin has done a fine job, and even got a one-year contract extension recently. But he doesn’t provide what Subban provides; not many players do.
In Sunday’s 5-2 loss to Chicago, the Preds were also without three key forwards in James Neal (upper body), Viktor Arvidsson (upper body) and Colin Wilson (lower body).
“It’s about finding ways to get results,” said center Ryan Johansen, per The Tennessean. “It doesn’t matter who’s out. We’ve got a lot of talent in here.”
Three points back of a wild-card spot, the Preds host Vancouver tonight and Boston Thursday, and then it’s on the road for five games. They are still very much in the playoff race, but it’s not just about catching Calgary or Los Angeles for one of the wild-card berths, it’s also about leapfrogging the Canucks, Jets, and Stars.
As for Subban, his return date remains unclear. He’s supposed to be re-evaluated in a week or two, but it remains to be seen if that will bring good or bad news.
Related: Subban said he’s ‘seeing progress every day’ in recovery from injury