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5 Questions With On The Forecheck

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Deep, down and dirty with Mark of SB Nation's On The Forecheck

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Five questions with Mark of SB Nation's On The Forecheck.  Man, I want P.K. Subban.

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then we'll begin.

Copper and Blue:  A fourth round pick in 2014, Viktor Arvidsson is a player that I wasn't too awfully familiar with until he started becoming a thorn in the side of the Oilers.  As of this moment, he's tied for third on the Predators points with Mike Fisher, and Arvidsson is on the top line.  It must be fun finding value past the first round.  Where did this guy come from?

On The Forecheck: To be honest with you, even after he made a pretty strong impression with 16 points in 56 games last season, I wasn’t on the ‘Arvidsson bandwagon’ headed into this year. He’s 5-foot-9 but what he lacks in size he surely makes up with his skating ability and he will shoot the puck from absolutely anywhere (he leads the team in shots this year). The Preds picked him up in the fourth-round of the 2014 Draft and he got acclimated to the North American style of game very quickly with 55 points in 70 games with AHL Milwaukee back in 2014-15. He’s one of those guys that was looked over due to his size and David Poile took a chance on him and it’s certainly paying off.

Copper and Blue: After a 7-7-3 start, the Predators have turned in a 17-11-5 record.  For a portion of that time, it was without your best defenceman. After a mediocre start to the season, what changed for Nashville?

On The Forecheck:  This is a cliche answer, but I think it’s chemistry. It takes time for these players to get acclimated with one another especially when they turn around and instead of seeing Shea Weber it’s P.K. Subban manning their own blue line. It’s taken time but the chemistry seems to be there at the moment. Craig Smith was completely invisible to start the year as was Filip Forsberg but those guys, especially Forsberg have really turned it on. Subban has been banged up and missed a good chunk of games, now Roman Josi is on injured reserve so the blue line has been a mess in terms of personnel for a majority of the year. They’ve had to adjust and something is finally clicking.

Copper and Blue: Tell us about an underrated member of the Predators this year.

On The Forecheck:  Juuse Saros. I would get to know that name. The 5-foot-11, 21-year-old net minder has been stellar for the Preds this season backing up Pekka Rinne. He’s been so good the team has actually given him starts not on the back-end of a back-to-back which has been unheard of over the past few seasons. It just shows how much confidence they have in this guy that has less than 60 games on North American soil under his belt. He is 5-3-2 on the year and holds a 1.79 goals allowed average to go along with a .941 save percentage. He has allowed no more than one goal in six of his 10 starts this season including one shutout at St. Louis.

Copper and Blue: After a decade of being mired in the swamp, the Oilers are showing some improvement. There's still work to be done though.  They're thin on the right side, they could use a puck moving defenceman, and a backup goalie.  If you could pick just one position to improve for the Predators, what would it be?

On The Forecheck:  The Predators need help in the middle. It seems odd saying that after they pulled off a blockbuster trade last year swapping Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen, but with Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro as your two options behind him at center, things are a bit thin. Ribeiro has been a healthy scratch four times this season, all of those situations being very recent, and while Fisher wears the ‘C’ it doesn’t hide the fact he’s 36-years-old. Nashville has one of the strongest blue lines in the league and plenty of wingers. Add a legitimate, young-ish, scoring No. 2 center and this team would be very, very scary.

Copper and Blue:    Finally, everyone's goal is to win the Cup.  What would be a successful season for Nashville?

On The Forecheck:  The Predators were oh-so-close to punching their ticket to the Western Conference Finals before being abused by San Jose in Game 7 but that was extremely valuable experience gained by a team that is pretty much identical to what it was last year. I think a trip to the Western Conference Final would be a successful season for Nashville. It’s still a relatively young group when you look at their key pieces, especially up front, where another strong run, another step closer to the Cup could push them all the way in the 2017-18 season.

But, do I think they can make it to the Cup this year? Absolutely, especially if Josi and Subban are healthy.
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The Oilers are in Nashville tonight.

Thanks to Mark for his time!