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Behind The Numbers

Arvidsson quietly producing elite scoring season for Predators

Forward has career high in goals, almost exclusively at even strength

by Scott Cullen / Correspondent

The Nashville Predators have struggled to score goals this season, even though they have a forward who is enjoying one of the best even-strength goal-scoring seasons of this generation.

The Predators have averaged 2.85 goals per game this season, which ranks 19th in the NHL and is down from last season when they scored 3.18 goals per game and ranked eighth.

This comes despite the performance of Viktor Arvidsson. He has scored a NHL career-high 33 goals in 56 games -- he missed six weeks with a broken thumb -- and his 0.59 goals per game is tied for second in the NHL with John Tavares of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers, behind Alex Ovechkin (0.65) of the Washington Capitals.

As impressive as that is, it doesn't sufficiently emphasize how great Arvidsson has been this season.

The difference between Arvidsson and the other top goal-scorers in the NHL is that he doesn't play a significant role on the power play.

While Arvidsson plays an average of 2:55 per game on the power play, fourth-most on the team, he is not featured prominently in its scheme, which relies more on shots from the perimeter.

Video: CBJ@NSH: Arvidsson nets SHG, ties Predators record

The Predators have converted 12.8 percent of their power-play opportunities this season. The Montreal Canadiens are the only team with a less-efficient power play (12.5 percent).

Arvidsson has scored two of his 33 goals this season with the man-advantage; 6.1 percent of his goals coming on the power play. Petr Nedved, who scored two of his 38 goals on the power play for the 1992-93 Vancouver Canucks is the last player to score more than 30 goals with a lower percentage of power-play goals (5.3 percent).

This trend isn't new for Arvidsson, although it is more extreme this season. In the past three seasons, he has scored nine of his 93 goals on the power play (9.1 percent). He also has an NHL-best 10 shorthanded goals in that time.

Though Arvidsson has taken an unconventional path to becoming a top-tier goal-scorer, he does have a solid foundation.

A fourth-round pick out of Skelleftea (Swedish Hockey League) in 2014, he scored 30 goals in 87 American Hockey League games before getting promoted to Nashville. Arvidsson scored eight goals in 56 games for the Predators during his rookie season of 2015-16 before scoring 31 goals the following season.

Arvidsson skates on Nashville's top line with center Ryan Johansen and left wing Filip Forsberg. Johansen has ceded shooting responsibility to his wings and it works.

Arvidsson has consistently generated shots even without a primary shooting role on Nashville's power play.

This season, Arvidsson is averaging a career-high 3.3 shots on goal per game; it's the third straight season in which he has averaged more than three shots on goal per game. Arvidsson is one of 19 players to average at least three shots on goal per game in each of the past three seasons.

Video: NSH@PIT: Arvidsson nets 100th NHL goal on power play

One part of Arvidsson's game that leads to his high-end goal production is that, though he's 5-foot-9, he's sturdy, tenacious and doesn't shy away from the front of the net. As simple as it sounds, that's where the goals are scored -- and Arvidsson continually finds his way into those areas to create high-danger scoring chances. In addition to having significant shot volume, he goes where he needs to be to have the greatest chance to score.

What has elevated Arvidsson's goal production this season is that he has scored on a career-high 18.0 percent of his shots after scoring on 12.2 percent of his shots in the previous two seasons. An increase in shooting percentage results in more goals, but that is also more difficult to sustain long-term.

From 2016-17 through 2018-19, there are six players who have played in at least 100 games and have a shooting percentage of 18.0 or better during that three-season stretch; none has scored more goals than Arvidsson's 93. Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets (19.1 percent) is the closest with 91 goals.

Among players with more goals than Arvidsson during that time, the one with the highest shooting percentage is Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (101 goals), who has scored on 17.2 percent of his shots on goal. This shows just how difficult it is to maintain high percentages.

The Predators need to solve some issues offensively, especially when it comes to the power play. They can at least count on the contributions of Arvidsson, one of the NHL's premier even-strength goal-scorers.

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