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Forsberg, Arvidsson Making Impacts as Preds Top Trio Gets Back to Work

Johansen Gets Wingers Back Alongside as Nashville's First Line Begins to Dominate Again

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

Sure, it was a given the difference would be noticeable when Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg eventually returned to the Nashville lineup.

With the pair of Swedish playmakers both missing more than a month of action due to their respective upper-body injuries in the latter portions of 2018, just how apparent their impact would be may have been lost on casual and fervent observers alike.

Nowadays, with Arvidsson back for the last 10 games, and the latest four with Forsberg in the lineup as well, it's readily apparent once more just how effective the Predators top line can be - and is - on a nightly basis.

Forsberg has a pair of two-goal games since he laced the skates back up, while Arvidsson has tallied on six occasions in those 10 outings since his return.

And then, there's Ryan Johansen.

Healthy all season long, Nashville's No. 1 centerman found ways to produce, even without his most-trusted flankers. Johansen leads the club with 32 assists and 40 points, and since Arvidsson returned on Dec. 27, he's posted a pair of three-game point streaks, including the current edition that has seen him wrack up four helpers in three games.

"Ryan has been really good all year," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "He's been productive all year long, and I think it becomes a little bit more challenging when you lose your linemates like that. It didn't matter to him, and he worked to make our team successful and to make the players on the ice around him better as well. That's always a tough situation for a guy like him, but I thought he handled it really well and did a nice job."

Sunday's loss in Carolina snapped a seven-game point streak for the Preds, but even in the defeat, Laviolette still made a point to compliment his top trio on the day, their efforts almost single handedly leading to an improbable comeback.

There are always instances throughout the season when one of the members of the line, affectionately referred to as "JOFA" via social media, will say something to the effect of "we were going tonight," or "we were really feeling it out there."

So, when they're "going" or "feeling it," what exactly does that mean?

"It's just the scoring chances," Forsberg said. "We want to create as many chances as we can, and we're obviously one of the best lines in the League for that reason. We just try to use our skill and speed to create chances."

"We expect to be difference-makers," Johansen said. "When we're going and things are clicking, we know we're getting the results."

For Johansen, having his wingers back makes a world of difference, and although he's more than familiar with them as players and their individual tendencies on the ice, their ability is still something to marvel on a nightly basis.

"We talk about Arvi being that Energizer Bunny for our team, just the way he plays the game, how fast he plays and the passion he brings to each game," Johansen said. "It's contagious for our group, and you see that immediately when he's back in the lineup. And Fil is obviously one of the most talented guys in the League where his skill level is just above everyone else's. With those two being back in it, it's a big boost to our group and guys we need to be successful."

Both Forsberg and Arvidsson have lived up to the billing with their second debuts - to the surprise of no one. The Predators know if they're going to have success as a team, they need the pair to be at the top of their game.

So far, so good.

"We're putting the work in for each other and we're making differences in the games whether it's on the scoreboard or in the defensive end of the rink," Johansen said. "Most nights, we push each other as a line to be the best we can be, and we've been doing a good job of it as of late."

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