The Nashville Predators made the playoffs seven of the past eight seasons, so Martin Erat got plenty of games to build up a resume there. By the numbers, it’s not an impressive one: eight goals, 15 assists and a minus-7 rating in 46 postseason games.
But that was part of coach Barry Trotz’s defensive system. Surrounded by more high-end, offensive talent and in Adam Oates’ aggressive setup for the Washington Capitals, this could be Erat’s chance to break out.
“On paper there was kind of a lack of scoring,” ex-Predators and current Caps teammate Joel Ward said. “At the same time, every year when I was there in playoffs too, he was always one of the go-to guys obviously on the power play, penalty kill and playing five-on-five. I think with a little bit more depth here, I think it’ll create a little bit more opportunity for him to kind of do his thing. He’ll create chances for sure. Just worrying about just bearing down on chances.”
Erat has shown a deft playmaking ability since the Caps acquired him at the deadline, even if he hasn’t been prominent on the score sheet.The 31-year-old left wing has fit in well on a second line with skilled center Mike Ribeiro and big right wing Troy Brouwer.
“You see, obviously, why he’s been a top quality player in this league,” Oates said. “When you get traded, it doesn’t always click at first. Some guys are more comfortable right off the hop than others. I think he’s done a great job and played pretty good hockey.”
Erat played pretty good hockey in Nashville, but the production was rarely there in the playoffs. He had one breakout series in seven playoffs, scoring four goals and adding an assist in 2010 against the Chicago Blackhawks. But Erat was also responsible for the turnover late in Game 6 that allowed the Blackhawks to win the series and eliminate the Predators.