First it was Philip Tomasino. Now it’s Luke Evangelista.
Nashville Predators first-year head coach Andrew Brunette hasn’t shied away from using playing time, or lack thereof, to send messages to some of the team’s younger, more inexperienced players.
Brunette announced after morning skate that Evangelista would be a healthy scratch for the Predators tilt with the Colorado Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena Monday night, citing the 21-year-old forward’s need to take a beat.
“It’s just a little bit of a reset,” Brunette told reporters after practice. “The last five, six, seven games he’s been probably not playing up to his standard and my expectation of him. I don’t think he’s been skating like he skated earlier in the year. I think it’s good to just take a step back. He’s a skilled, smart hockey player. Sometimes, you just need a little bit of a refresh.
In Evangelista’s place, Juuso Parssinen will move up to the second line next to Cody Glass and Kiefer Sherwood. Liam Foudy, who was a healthy scratch in Nashville’s 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, will also slot back into the lineup against the Avs on the third line with Yakov Trenin and Colton Sissons.
In the seven games the Predators have played in November, Evangelista notched four points (all assists), a power-play assist and 10 shots on goal while averaging 14:31 of ice time per game. His production noticeably fell off the last two games with Tommy Novak, who usually centers the line Evangelista play on, being placed on injured reserve.
It’s no secret Evangelista is a better player with Novak than without him. When the two are paired together, Evangelista’s Corsi percentage (59.8% to 54.7%), expected goals for percentage (63.5% to 47.2%) and high-danger chance percentage (68.1% to 51.3%) are all drastically better, per Natural Stat Trick.
“This game gets faster and harder as the season goes on, and you don’t want to let him keep sliding right now,” Brunette added. “You may not find it if you wait another 10 games. So, I think it’s important that he gets his eyes on it. We talked about it, but I think he has to see it and feel it and get back to work.”
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