However, for the Nashville Predators on Saturday, it was the offense produced by the defense that led them to a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals.
Four of the five of the Predators’ goals in the game were either scored by, or assisted by, defensemen. According to Roman Josi, that was a product of a set of forwards that know how to use their defensemen well in the offensive end.
“They’re doing a great job getting it up to the point and it makes it so much easier for us,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of pucks from the forwards there. They’re forechecking, turning pucks over and getting it up to us. All we need to do is get it to the net, but the forwards are definitely doing a great job.”
Josi had two goals, including the tying goal in the early moments of the second period. Filip Forsberg made his way towards the net and found Josi wide open at the left circle, giving the defenseman an easy one-time goal. His second tally came on the power play in the third period. He took the puck off the initial faceoff and fired a laser past goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
Ryan Ellis also got in on the action, getting a secondary assist on Forsberg’s go-ahead goal midway through the second period.
For the forwards, having skilled two-way defensemen on the blue line is like icing on the cake.
“Since the day I’ve been here, we always had a really really good D corps,” said Forsberg, who extended his point streak to four games with a goal in the second period. “They’ve been playing really well defensively, but definitely adding offense as well. I think, obviously, that’s still the case. Those guys move the puck well and playing fast and they’re making a lot of plays.”
The Predators have been known for their stellar defense, and under head coach Peter Laviolette, they have a system in which defensemen have a lot of freedom to work offensively and contribute in the offensive end. A defenseman like Josi can thrive in a system like that.
“I think as defensemen, we have a lot of guys that can skate and then move the pucks, and we have a lot of two-way defensemen that want to jump up in the play,” he said. “Our system allows us to do that, and it’s definitely a lot of fun.”
Earlier in the season, this dynamic defensive unit might not have shown their true colors because they were banged up. Josi, P.K. Subban, Anthony Bitetto and Ryan Ellis have all missed some time this season due to injury. With a fully healthy unit now, they’re beginning to thrive and get hot as the stretch run to the playoffs gets underway.
Even with extended absences, the Predators’ defensive depth allowed them to get by without being seriously disadvantaged.
“I thought even when guys were out, guys did a great job stepping up and there’s a lot of players that took on a bigger role and they did a great job,” he said. “Lately, it seems to be going in for us defensemen. It’s obviously nice for us. We want to chip in offensively too, and it’s been good lately.”
Nashville’s offensive explosion and victory on Saturday meant more than the usual win, as the Capitals are the top team in the NHL featuring one of the best players in the league in Alex Ovechkin. With one more game remaining in the homestand on Sunday, Josi said that this kind of win is nice to have.
“It’s the best team in the league, and I thought we played a pretty good game,” he said. “[Saros] was great in net. It’s definitely a win that gives us confidence. It’s always nice to beat a team like that. It definitely gives us some confidence going forward.”
The Predators complete their four-game homestand on Sunday against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop is scheduled for 4 PM.