Predators “Herd Line” Vital For Team’s Continued Success

Smashville took a deep sigh of relief on Thursday, Oct. 27 when the Nashville Predators defeated the St. Louis Blues, 6-2, earning their first home win of the season and snapping a five-game losing streak. While some familiar faces finally hit the scoresheet, the “Herd Line” was the catalyst for the team’s success and eventual victory. The win was the 900th victory for the franchise.

With the number of personnel changes in the offseason and the team’s recent struggles, many wondered if the trio of Tanner Jeannot, Colton Sissons, and Yakov Trenin would remain together. Last year’s success indicated that they should, as going into the 2022-23 season the Herd Line was 10th among forward lines in the entire NHL for expected goals for and played the fourth-most minutes together in the NHL over the course of 68 total games.

In an attempt to shake things up, head coach John Hynes made “a couple of tweaks” to the line combinations in Thursday’s game. With some of the new combinations being successful, the play of the Herd Line was key to the Predators snapping their losing streak. After the game, Hynes credited his third and fourth lines for getting the team going. “You want to try to have some lines that have some identities as best you can, and those guys came through tonight.”

Jeannot Building on Successful Rookie Season

Like last season, this year’s “Herd Line” needs to continue to bring energy to the lineup even on nights when the rest of the team is lackluster in its play. Almost on cue, Jeannot scored on a Trenin rebound and tied the score at 1-1 with 3:04 remaining in the first. This came after Sissons masterfully and forcefully won the faceoff. After the game, Jeannot talked about how this line needs to continue their attacking ways. “We’re a big forward group so we can get in front of the goalie’s eyes. We made an emphasis to get in front of the goalie’s eyes so we could get those rebounds that came out.”

Tanner Jeannot Nashville Predators
Tanner Jeannot. Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Last season’s leader in hits (318) among forwards is also contributing to the scoresheet, having scored three goals with one assist through the first eight games. Jeannot scoring goals is an added bonus to his physical style of play. This will continue to make the Predators an extremely difficult and frustrating team to play against, like they were against the Blues on Thursday night — a necessity if they want to make last night’s victory more than an occasional occurrence.

Sisson Anchors the Herd Line

One of the skills that Sisson brings to this line is his ability to win faceoffs. Last season, he had a staggering 719 faceoff wins, giving him a win percentage of 55.7 percent. That puts him on a level with such notable centers as Auston Matthews and Patrice Bergeron. This also allows the 28-year-old to excel at set plays, which was demonstrated in Thursday night’s win when his faceoff was the catalyst for the Jeannot goal.

Like his linemates, Sissons is an excellent defensive forward and a capable two-way player. This is a great complement to Jeannot and Trenin, who are hard-nosed, offense-first players. The North Vancouver native is usually described as a bottom-six type of player, but he really should be labeled as a middle-six type, as his ability to defend and create points has been quite valuable to the Predators. Since being drafted by the Predators in 2012, Sissons has done everything he has been asked to do and more throughout his career and is now using his veteran presence to lead a line with some developing younger talent.

Herd Line Has a “No Shift Off” Mentality

Since they developed as a cohesive line pairing last season, you would be hard-pressed to find a shift in which it could be said that they “took a shift off.” Using mostly a dump-and-chase style, they thrive off loose puck battles while protecting the puck well in all three areas of the ice. This effort was extremely evident in the Oct. 20 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, as the trio collected a pair of points, with Trenin contributing a goal and an assist. This allowed him to break a five-game pointless streak after coming off career highs in goals (17), points (24), and games played (80) last season.

Yakov Trenin Nashville Predators
Yakov Trenin, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Trenin and Jeannot were among just six NHL players with at least 191 hits and 17 goals last season, helping to lead the Predators in averaging the most hits (30.12) in the NHL. The Herd Line is the perfect example of a group of forwards that dictate the game’s pace by throwing hits to grab control, which was lacking during the Predators’ five-game losing streak.

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Every successful team needs to have some sort of contribution from their bottom-six forwards. For the Predators, this is embodied by the Herd Line, which has given this team the ability to be aggressive in the forechecking game, which normally puts lots of pressure on the defense when the puck crosses the blue line into the offensive zone. If the team is looking for long-term success, it is vital that they continue to feed off the energy and production that the Herd Line has given them.