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Ravaged By Injuries, Predators Turn To Juuso Parssinen In Time Of Need

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Photo of Juuso Parssinen by David Russell/Nashville Hockey Now

Juuso Parssinen has the versatility to play all three forward spots, but center is his natural position.

So with the Nashville Predators down two of their top three centers for the foreseeable future, first-year head coach Andrew Brunette decided to slide Parssinen back to center ice where he’s probably most comfortable in hopes of stabilizing a Predators top-six unit that’s been hit hard with injuries through the first 17 games.

“[We’re] just trying to find chemistry,” Brunette said on Wednesday. “Obviously, losing [Tommy Novak] and now you lose [Cody Glass], it seems like we’ve been most of the season trying to find groups that can feed off each other and get the best out of each other. [Kiefer Sherwood and Luke Evangelista] have had some chemistry and I hope they can continue it with [Parssinen] and with these injuries right now, some guys have to step up.”

Of the 645 minutes Parssinen played with the Predators last season, 80% of that time was spent at center ice (503:42). The lines that he did center performed better than the ones he played wing on with a higher expected-goals-for percentage (51.5 to 48.3), more goals for per 60 minutes (3.09 to 3.00), fewer goals allowed per 60 minutes (2.8 to 3.6), a higher Corsi percentage (50.8% to 44.8%), and more shot attempts per 60 minutes (54.8 to 47.2).

Wednesday’s matchup with the Calgary Flames will be uncharted waters for Parssinen as he centers the second line with Kiefer Sherwood and Cody Glass — two forwards he’s played a total of two minutes and 40 seconds with this season across 15 games.

But just because they haven’t played together much, that doesn’t mean the line can’t be productive. Evangelista ranks third in assists per 60 minutes (two), fifth in points per 60 minutes (2.2), and he’s sixth on the team with nine points.

Sherwood is second on the team in goals above expected (1.3) and shot attempts per 60 minutes (17.2), third in shot attempts (58) and shots on goal per 60 minutes (9.2), fourth in shots on goal (31), and he’s tied for fifth on the Predators in goals (four).

“It doesn’t matter wherever I play in the lineup; I try to do me,” Parssinen said. “It doesn’t matter where (I play), but of course, sometimes I play winger, sometimes center, now [I’m playing] center with two skilled guys. Of course, I’ve got to make plays and those guys are fast, smart — so I think we’re going to have a good night (against Calgary).”

Parssinen was one of the players Nashville Hockey Now chronicled last week with the most to gain with Novak on injured reserve.

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_