Preds' Depth Proves Valuable In Playoff Run

Posted at 3:12 PM, May 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-14 16:12:38-04

When Austin Watson's second period shot hit off Ducks' defenseman Sami Vatanen and past John Gibson Friday night, he became the 15th different Predators' player to score a goal in this postseason.

That is a franchise record for a team that had never reached a Western Conference Final before this week, and now stands three wins away from a trip to its first Stanley Cup Final thanks in large part to it's depth in lines.

The Predators have four lines head coach Peter Laviolette feels comfortable rolling over the boards in just about any situation. That's a luxury during a time of the season many coaches shorten their bench to hide weaknesses.

"There's no different set of plans for different players or different lines," Laviolette said. "Everybody is on the same page, but when you get into the playoffs and you have those opportunities to roll your lines and get your whole lineup involved the way we have in the first two series and the one tonight as well, it provides opportunity for those players."

Those players have stepped up when called upon. From Colton Sissons' emergence to Harry Zolnierczyk's goal in Chicago to Vernon Fiddler's game-winner in game one of the St. Louis series to enforcers like Cody McLeod and Watson chipping in, the Predators are getting contributions from everyone.

"You expect guys like Fil [Forsberg] and [Viktor Arvidsson] and that top line to produce," Watson said after the Preds' 3-2 overtime win in game one against the Ducks. "But to be able to chip in offensively was definitely nice."

The Predators have now outscored opponents 31-16 in the playoffs. Four different players - Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Forsberg and James Neal have scored four goals apiece. But it's the depth of scoring that has helped make the Preds the hottest team in the playoffs so far.

"It's a big firm of the year and it's been a big part of our success, getting that alliance and attack from everybody," Laviolette said. "We're getting contributions from everybody in different places. That team concept and that team mindset is a good way to do it."