Connect with us

Nashville Predators

Predators Shouldn’t Overthink Spencer Stastney’s Replacement



Photos of Tyson Barrie, left, and Dante Fabbro by John Russell/Nashville Predators

The Round 1 Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks has been a war of attrition.

Through three games, there’s been a combined 210 hits (Vancouver 113, Nashville 97), 102 blocked shots (Nashville 55, Vancouver 47), and 52 penalty minutes (Vancouver 30, Nashville 22), not to mention Vancouver lost starting goaltender Thatcher Demko after Game 1 to a possible ACL injury and Predators defenseman Spencer Stastney went down with an upper-body injury in Game 3 and is listed as week-to-week.

Without Stastney, Predators head coach Andrew Brunette has to decide which of Tyson Barrie or Dante Fabbro is better suited to take the speedy blue-liner’s spot — a decision that might boil down to one determining factor: which player best helps the Predators on the score sheet?

If Brunette were deciding solely on size and physicality, Fabbro would be the clear choice. He’s slightly bigger (6-foot, 190 pounds) than Barrie (5-foot-11, 195 pounds), and blocks more shots (88 to 47) and hits more players (45 to 14).

But in a series where the Predators have scored two goals or fewer in two of their three games and gone just 1-for-13 on power-play opportunities, Barrie might just be Nashville’s better play.

The Canucks have bested the Predators offensively in several key areas including scoring chances for (64 to 47), expected goals for (6.09 to 4.55), high-danger chances for (26-19) and PDO (100.5 to 99.5), which calculates save percentage plus shooting percentage (the average is 100).

With Nashville’s top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan O’Reilly and Gustav Nyquist accounting for just one goal and only 40.7% of scoring chances for and 45.4% of high-danger chances for, the team needs offense to come from somewhere.

Barrie’s 0.62 points-per-game average is significantly higher than Fabbro’s 0.23, and he holds an edge in several other offensive categories including scoring chances per game (9.4 to 8.1), individual expected goals (4.4 to 2.5), individual scoring chances for (48 to 34), and individual point percentage (36.5 to 30.2), which measures the percentage of a team’s goals that each player scored a point on.

The 32-year-old defender is also deployed in the offensive zone more than Fabbro — he’s started 71.1% of his shifts there compared to Fabbro’s 55% — and he turns the puck over far less (he has 18 giveaways to Fabbro’s 55).

Barrie also happens to shine in the one area the Predators are struggling the most right now: the power play.

Vancouver is outshooting Nashville on the man advantage (22.2% to 7.69%), and the Predators are averaging just one shot per power play. And despite their 18 scoring chances for and six high-danger chances for on the man advantage, the have just one PP goal to show for it.

“If you watch playoff hockey, a lot of times special teams dictate the series, and they dictated it [in Game 3],” Predators head coach Andrew Brunette said.

Forty-two percent of Barrie’s career points have come on the man advantage (210 of 505), compared to just 5% for Fabbro (4 of 72), and he can also quarterback the second PP unit, which has looked lethargic at times and produced nothing through three games.

“It’s not going to be easy next game,” Brunette said. “[Vancouver is] going to be better and we can’t idle. We’ve got to put the petal to the metal a little bit and get going.”

The Predators don’t have the luxury of time while the offense gets its act together. Another one- or two-goal performance in Game 4 on Sunday and the Predators could find themselves heading back to Vancouver on Tuesday facing elimination.

Brunette has two solid options to replace Stastney, but one choice is clearly better than the other.

All stats are from Natural Stat Trick.

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

Be sure to follow Nashville Hockey Now on X/Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Get Nashville HN in Your Inbox!

Enter your email address and get our stories send straight to your inbox.