Every team has a player whose fans love to constantly chirp at for inconsistent play, oftentimes coupled with that fact that the particular player is vastly overpaid. For Nashville Predator fans, the duo of David Legwand and Martin Erat served that role for the past few seasons. Legwand was the team’s first ever draft pick, and while he never lived up to the offensive expectations that a high draft pick typically has, I think fans are starting to realize that his primary role involves shutting down the opposition’s top line game in and game out, and they’re starting to lower their expectations of him. On the other hand, Erat has been Nashville’s most dangerous forward in recent years, but being injury prone along with an uber-expensive contract have oftentimes led to him catching the ire of the fanbase. This season, Erat has stayed healthy for the most part, and when healthy, has played well, notching 11 points in 15 games.
One particular player has constantly frustrated me for the past month, it boggles my mind as to why he is underperforming.
Sergei Kostitsyn came into this season with high expectations after being one of two Nashville forwards (the other was Patric Hornqvist) to top 2o goals, as well as tying Erat for the team lead in points with 50. Kostitsyn received a one-year, $2.5 million contract over the offseason, giving him this season to prove that his career year was not a fluke. He hit the ground running, getting a point in each of the first five games of the season, and tallied eight points through nine games.
Then came the injury. Sergei suffered a lower-body injury against Tampa Bay on October 27th, and missed the following two games. He tried coming back on the road in Phoenix, but apparently wasn’t 100%, and subsequently missed another two games. He is yet to return to form.
In the 9 games Kostitsyn has played in since returning to the lineup on November 9th, he has tallied 3 assists, all of them coming against Toronto. In a somewhat disturbing trend, Kostitsyn has only put 4 shots on goal since returning to the lineup (he has 14 this season), and has failed to put a shot on goal in 9 of the 19 games he has played in this season. Current teammates outshooting him at this point of the season: Kevin Klein (21), Jerred Smithson (16), and Jack Hillen (15). For a player that was an offensive force on the team last season, that’s a stat that needs to get turned around, stat. Perhaps taking a page out of Craig Smith’s book would do him some good. The rookie has put at least one shot on goal in all but two games, has put at least two shots on goal in 18 of 23 games, and has tallied 6 (!) shots on net on four different occasions. The end result: leading the team in points (17), and is second on the team in shots (66) behind Shea Weber.
No one is sure why Sergei is slumping the way he is, but he needs to start finding ways to get on the scoresheet on a regular basis. He’s in a contract year, and he may become expendable this offseason with plenty of young players in Milwaukee chomping at the bit for a chance to play with the big club.