Predators must cope without key star with Forsberg on IR

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While people are quick to make jokes about the Washington Capitals trading him for a faded Martin Erat, the discussion doesn’t always go deep enough when it comes to Nashville Predators star Filip Forsberg.

Some of that comes from his stats being impressive, but not necessarily “world-beating.” Some might stem from his successes being shared, as his rise comes as part of a deadly line with Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson.

The Predators would prefer not to find out this way, but with Forsberg on IR for at least a week, perhaps his importance will shine if the team suffers in his absence. Nashville is currently in action in its first game with Forsberg on the shelf tonight as they’re closing off a home-and-home series with the Minnesota Wild.

The Tennessean’s Adam Vignan captured the disparity in play for Arvidsson and Johansen with and without Forsberg in this tweet:

Early on, it looks like Calle Jarnkrok is getting a bump up in the order to Forsberg’s spot with Arvidsson and Johansen. One would assume that Peter Laviolette isn’t particularly eager to break up Kevin FialaKyle TurrisCraig Smith, but the good news is that there are options on the third line if Jarnkrok doesn’t mesh. It’s easy to forget about the addition of Scott Hartnell thanks to his cheap $1M salary and lengthy injury absence, yet he could conceivably mesh well with those young forwards if called upon.

The Predators are battling with the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues to try to grab the top spot in the Central Division, so any Forsberg absence hurts. They have to hope that this ends up being merely a minor hiccup.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.