Predators rookie Forsberg shows little sign of slowing down
Predators forward Filip Forsberg shows little sign that he’s slowing down as a rookie just yet.
He became the first Predator ever to score in the All-Star Game as he scored not once but twice in Columbus playing with the league’s best, and he didn’t stop scoring once he got back to work in Nashville. Forsberg added another goal in his first game back from the break, keeping him as the team’s leader with 16 goals this season.
Forsberg wasn’t even sure if his latest goal went in, just taking a chance throwing the puck at the net Tuesday night in a 4-3 overtime win over Colorado.
”I kind of heard everyone celebrating, so it was good,” Forsberg said.
It’s been that kind of season for the 20-year-old right wing from Ostervalla, Sweden. He had played 18 games with Nashville combined over the past two seasons under coach Barry Trotz after picking him up from Washington as part of a trade that sent Martin Erat to the Capitals. Forsberg managed only one goal with Nashville and spent most of his time in the AHL in Milwaukee.
That prompted him to work hard to make sure he stayed in Nashville, where the Predators currently are second in the Western Conference off to a franchise-best start at 31-10-5.
”I was just really determined all summer to come back from last season’s up-and-down season and try to play good hockey again,” Forsberg said. ”I always knew I had it in me and I was just trying to prepare as well as possible for this season, and it’s been working so far.”
A coaching change that brought in Peter Laviolette and his offensive approach have been a perfect fit for the 6-foot-1 right wing.
Forsberg already has set franchise records with 26 assists and 41 points as a rookie. He also has the team’s rookie mark for scoring at least a point in seven consecutive games. With 26 games left starting Thursday night at St. Louis, Forsberg needs three goals to top Alexander Radulov’s record of 18 goals in a season set in 2006-07.
The rookie credits the Predators with playing a more up-tempo game now under Laviolette, a change from when defense might have been the top priority under Trotz.
”I want to play offensive hockey and that’s what our team wants to do, too, and that fits me pretty good,” Forsberg said.
Laviolette said the rookie was a deserving late addition to the All-Star Game because of injuries to Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh. Laviolette coached Forsberg with Team Toews but didn’t learn until after the game that the rookie had set yet another Nashville mark scoring the Predators’ first goals in an All-Star Game.
”He had a terrific start to this season,” Laviolette said.
Forsberg has been a favorite for the Calder award for the NHL’s top rookie since early this season.
He is tied for the league’s lead with his 16 goals, and he leads in assists, points and with his plus-25 rating. His 41 points ranks him 26th in the league, and he’s tied for third with four-game winning goals. He just missed his fifth game-winner Tuesday night when Nashville gave up a late goal before winning in overtime.
For all of Forsberg’s creativity and touch with the puck on his stick, he also is helped by playing on Nashville’s top line with center Mike Ribeiro, who’s tied for sixth in the league with 32 assists.
”Playing with Mike Ribeiro basically all year really helped me to develop and have this early success,” Forsberg said.