As if the Predators haven’t received enough blows this season, sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference currently riding a 5-game losing streak, the team released news this past week that Gabriel Bourque, Colin Wilson, and Paul Gaustad have had season ending surgeries and will not return this season. Its no surprise that by losing the team’s leading point-scorer, the team’s leading goal-scorer, as well as the team’s top faceoff man might have had something to do with the Predators quick end to any playoff hopes.
Injuries End the Season for Bourque, Wilson, and Gaustad
With 6 games remaining for the Predators 2013 season, the team is facing a unique situation of being on the outside of the Western Conference playoff contenders. On a team already struggling to find an offensive identity, the loss of Bourque, Wilson, and Gaustad signifies that the slim hope that Predators fans were holding out for the season is all but officially non-existent.
Colin Wilson was leading the Predators in scoring with a paltry 19 points in early March when he was injured in early-March. Both Gabriel Bourque, leading the Predators with 11 goals, and Paul Gaustad, winning faceoffs at near a 60% rate, ended their seasons in early April.
Scoring only 6 goals in their last 5 games, the Predators have clearly missed the presence of three of the team’s top forwards. Although it looks like youngster Filip Forsberg will make his NHL debut with the team this week, the season for the Predators is already well beyond saving.
Things to Watch in Last 6 Games
With only 6 games remaining in the season, Predators’ fans may experience something they are not accustomed to; not watching playoff hockey cheering on their team. Missing the playoffs only once in the last 8 seasons, there are still plenty of important things to look for on this young Predators team, including:
1) The debut of Filip Forsberg – All eyes will be on the young gun as he plays his first NHL game. The future success of the Predators will largely be impacted by the success of Forsberg. Although time will most likely be necessary for him to adjust to the North American game, Forsberg could stand out, even in the 6 remaining games.
2) The Youth Movement – Its no secret that the Predators are a young team with prospects ready to get their time in the spotlight. In addition to the aforementioned Forsberg, it will be interesting to see if any other prospects will get a shot on the team and what their first taste of NHL action will be like.
3) Parting shots – It appears that the Predators could part ways with all three of their prospective Unrestricted Free Agents this offseason (Brandon Yip, Chris Mueller, and Chris Mason). Watch to see how these three free agents, in addition to the 8 upcoming Restricted Free Agents, perform in what could be their last games as Predators.
Just because the Predators season may be ending soon and three of the top forwards are out with injury, it doesn’t mean that the end of the season won’t hold insights into the future direction of the franchise.