The first nine games of the 2023 season have been uncharted waters for the Nashville Predators.
The team is breaking in a new offensive system under first-year head coach Andrew Brunette that requires more speed, puck movement and pace than they needed during John Hynes’ 248-game tenure.
But for Brunette’s system to be effective, the Predators not only have to create more scoring chances, they have to turn those chances into goals — something Filip Forsberg is seemingly having a hard time figuring out how to do.
Forsberg isn’t playing bad by any means. He leads the team in both points (8) and shots on goal (36) — a category he also ranks 14th in the NHL in — and he has the seventh-most shot attempts in the entire league, but just one goal to show for his efforts.
His case of being snake-bit is further accentuated having been deemed the second “unluckiest” offensive player in the NHL by Money Puck with a -3.6 goals above shooting talent, which calculates goals scored compared to expected goals after adjusting for a player’s historical shooting talent.
— MoneyPuck.com (@MoneyPuckdotcom) October 28, 2023
In fact, Forsberg’s 2.8 shooting percentage ranks 398th in the league among qualified skaters, per Money Puck, which falls well below his career average of 12.7% and the league average of 10.2%.
Though Forsberg is averaging 25.4 shot attempts per 60 and 12.5 shots on goal per 60 — good for seventh and 22nd in the league, respectively — he’s had 13 shots miss the net and 24 shots have been blocked.
“There’s been some chances for sure, but I’ve been playing decent hockey, creating chances,” Forsberg said after a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers on Oct. 19, the only time he’s found the back of the net this season. “If you keep doing that usually they do come.”
Forsberg’s shooting percentage is the lowest among the 41 skaters with 30 or more shots on goal. The only Predators forward with a worse shooting percentage (who’s played in all nine games) is Yakov Trenin (0%).
Forsberg’s one goal is the fewest he’s scored through his first nine games of a season since 2016. The 29-year-old Swede is one of nine forwards to average 19 or more minutes of ice time per game this season and not score multiple goals.
While he’s found the back of the net just once, neither Forsberg nor Brunette seem too concerned. Forsberg hasn’t scored fewer than seven goals through the first two months of a season each of the last seven years.
“I just believe, being in hockey as long as I have, if you get opportunities and chances, they’re going to go in at some point,” Brunette said last month. “To me, it’s more the process than the end result. Because if you get those [chances], then you know you’re doing some things offensively and you’ll get rewarded at some point.”
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