How Luke Evangelista capitalized on his upgraded role for Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators may be seeing Luke Evangelista elevate his game at just the right time.

Having already clinched a playoff spot, the team decided to rest several starters on Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

With Juuse Saros, Ryan McDonagh, and Gustav Nyquist all getting the night off due to "roster management," several players saw increased roles in what was an otherwise meaningless game at United Center.

Among those receiving promotions on Friday were Cody Glass and Dante Fabbro, each of whom started after sitting the past several games.

But it was Evangelista — who replaced Nyquist on the top line against the Blackhawks — who shined the brightest in the more prominent role.

Luke Evangelista shows he's capable of top-line minutes

Playing on the top line with Filip Forsberg and Ryan O'Reilly, Evangelista finished the night with two assists, five shots, and 15:55 minutes of ice time. The rookie was instrumental in getting Forsberg his franchise record-breaking 44th goal of the season and his 10th career hat trick.

All night, Evangelista was shifty in the offensive zone, dangling around Blackhawks defenders and finding creases in the middle of the ice. His second assist was part of a beautiful power-play combination involving O'Reilly and ending with Forsberg capping off his hat trick on the back side of the Chicago net.

According to Natural Stat Trick, with Evangelista on the ice at even strength, the Predators generated 15 shot attempts, while allowing only six. Anytime your balance of shot attempts for and against is that lopsided, you are doing something right.

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Evangelista has been surging in the second half of the season. He has scored 10 points in his past 18 games, including five goals. He is proving himself a reliable secondary scoring threat, something the team will need going into the playoffs.

There's no reason to expect Nyquist will lose his job on the top line to Evangelista. Nyquist's chemistry with Forsberg and O'Reilly is well established at this point, carrying him to a career-high 72 points so far.

But Evangelista showed on Friday he's capable of stepping into a prime role for the Predators, something coach Andrew Brunette has to feel good about.

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This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville Predators' Luke Evangelista capitalizes on elevated role