On Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators pulled a switcheroo with two of their top right wingers.
Kevin Fiala slid up to the top line to play alongside center Ryan Johansen and winger Filip Forsberg, while Viktor Arvidsson slid down to play with center Kyle Turris and winger Calle Jarnkrok.
The result was a low-scoring, yet high-intensity 2-1 victory for the Predators over the Los Angeles Kings. Turris scored the game’s opening goal on a power play, and Arvidsson had a slick assist on Roman Josi’s second-period goal.
The changes in the lines were born out of necessity and curiosity, according to head coach Peter Laviolette.
“Part of it is we’re dealing with some stuff inside the room,” Laviolette said. “It was an opportunity to take a look at that tonight for me. I thought that it would give Kevin a chance up with Joey and Fil. I thought that moving Arvi down there, there’s just some lines that we haven’t tried. Just trying to see what those combinations might be able to do. I thought that it was good because we were able to generate some offense.”
Aside from whatever “dealing with stuff in the room” means, the move seemed to be mutually beneficial. Turris would get the chance to continue to get his groove back with an electrifying winger by his side, while Fiala would have the opportunity to get feeds from an elite center in Johansen.
Fiala was a positive Fenwick (unblocked shot attempt) player at 53.3%, while Turris was an even 50% Corsi player (all shot attempts) on the night, per Natural Stat Trick.
For Turris, it was an easy transition to playing with someone as dynamic as Arvidsson.
“We actually played together all preseason, so we had a bit of familiarity there,” Turris said. “He’s just an easy guy to play with. He’s so fast, he sees the game real well and creates. That’s always fun.”
It’s been a rough couple of months for Turris as he’s tried to battle back from two separate injuries that kept him out for long periods of time. With this latest injury, he had a hard time keeping up with his fitness, which has made the curve much steeper as he tries to ease his way back into the lineup.
“It always takes a few games to kind of get the rhythm back, the timing back, get the legs back,” he said. “I’ve never had an injury where you can’t run or ride the bike to stay in shape. It was challenging, but it’s nice to be back in the rhythm.”
Despite the good result and the relative success of Fiala and Turris with new linemates, don’t expect these combinations to be set in stone. The JOFA Line might be just took good to give up for a long period of time.
“I see what you see,” Laviolette said. “They’re a terrific line, yet we’re trying to manage the whole team here. I know what I’ve got there. I’ve known it for a few years. It was a look tonight, it worked. I wouldn’t get glue out and glue those names onto my board.”
Nashville stays at home to take on the Colorado Avalanche in a Saturday matinee at Bridgestone Arena.