Your Nashville Predators went 3 for 3 this week! It wasn’t perfect, but it was still pretty damn great. They are 4-0-2 in November and I think we are starting to see the Predators we all expected in October.
11/8/16 vs Ottawa
The Good- After a slow start, Nashville was able to push the pace as the game went on. The man that was leading the way in creating offense? P.K. Subban. He was everywhere offensively and he was generating shots and chances for most of the night. On the Preds’ first goal, he circled the entire Ottawa zone a couple of times before finding Josi, who sent a pass over to a wide open James Neal, who one-timed it into the net. Subban only got the secondary assist on that one, but he did 90% of the work. On goal number two of the evening for the Preds, P.K. was the one who found the back of the net. He put a seeing eye wrister on net through traffic and it snuck through Craig Anderson. The entire team did well to create sustained pressure in the Senator’s end, and in the 3rd period it payed off again. Forsberg made a great play to force a turnover and find a WIDE OPEN Ryan Ellis coming down the far side. Ellis unleashed a clapper that would impress even Shea Weber that beat Anderson over the shoulder and gave Nashville a 3-0. Defensively, the Predators did a very good job of limiting high danger opportunities for Ottawa. Via the shot chart on HockeyViz, Nashville did a good job of taking away the slot and forcing the Senators to take shots they may not have preferred. When they did break through for a scoring chance, one man was there to save the day. That man’s name was Pekka Rinne. The Great Wall of Finland was spectacular all game. He bailed the Preds out more than once, including after this bad defensive turnover
— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) November 9, 2016
(Also seen on 3 Stars of the Week in last week’s Free Skate)
The Bad- Turnovers continue to be an issue for the Predators, and Tuesday night was no different. They were able to get them under control early but Rinne bailed them out twice on giveaways that immediately got turned into high grade chances for Ottawa. On the Sens’ lone goal, the entire team got caught watching the puck and left Kyle Turris alone in the slot and he hammered home a one-timer. The Preds also only won 39% of face-offs, so the Senators were getting possession off the draw pretty regularly.
The Ugly- Mattias Ekholm’s turnover in the 1st. He committed the cardinal sin for defensemen. He came out from behind the night and tried to pass the puck across the middle of the ice and it was picked off. Granted, it gave us Pekka’s unreal save so I’m not #madonline about it.
11/10/16 vs Saint Louis
The Good- Not to sound like a broken record, but Pekka Rinne was outstanding yet again. He stopped 23 of 24 shots that were fired by Saint Louis. He gave up a questionable one in the 1st period, but he was able to settle in and was solid the rest of the way. One of his more impressive saves was when he went side to side to close the door on a wrap around attempt by the Blues. He didn’t do it alone, though. His job was made much easier by the defense. Once again, they forced most Saint Louis shots to be taken outside the really danegrous areas on the ice. The Predators also ensured that not many pucks actually made it to Pekka as they blocked 18 Blues shots. From the end of the second period on, Nashville’s offense began to click. They were quiet up until that point, but they absolutely turned it on in the 3rd. James Neal continued his hot streak as he roofed a beautiful feed from Mike Ribeiro on a 2-on-2 rush to give the boys from Smashville a 2-1 lead. The Predators’ best offensive player on Thursday night was Calle Jarnkrok without a doubt. He had two goals and both came because he was smart enough to find a quiet spot in the slot to get open and fire rockets past former Predator goaltender, Carter Hutton. After the game, Calle’s coaches and teammates praised him for his hockey smarts and his ability to play up and down the line-up. *Crosses fingers that Las Vegas somehow passes him up in the expansion draft*.
Another angle: pic.twitter.com/ZGj510Od3z
— Mark Harris (@MCHisTweeting) November 11, 2016
The Bad- St. Louis controlled the game for much of the first two periods. Nashville looked like they were reacting to what the Blues did instead of anticipating what they were going to do. They were chasing the puck like a cat chases a laser pointer. Most of the time they were able to recover and thwart the Blues chance, but chasing the game is not something you want to become a regular occurrence. TURNOVERS. I am tired of typing that word. They aren’t as bad as they were earlier in the season, but they still make me want to clear out the moonshine stand in Bridgestone Arena. On the Blues’ only goal, Mattias Ekholm (not his best week) failed to clear the puck out of Nashville’s zone and the always dangerous Vladimir Tarasenko took possession. He found Jaden Schwartz who beat Pekka on a short side shot under the arm. As I said, the turnovers are lessening and becoming less costly, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still an issue.
The Ugly- The power play was 0-5 and it was excruciating to watch. Many times, they could’t even enter the offensive zone to set up the power play, let alone score. They would attempt drop passes coming through the neutral zone when they didn’t need to, which threw off the timing of the entry. Once they were able to set up, it was a lot of passing around the outside and bad shot selection. I only remember one great chance on the power play, which was a Filip Forsberg one-timer from the slot that was stopped by Carter Hutton.
11/12/16 vs Anaheim
The Good- After getting walloped in Anaheim a few weeks ago, the Preds wanted to come out pissed of for greatness on Saturday night. To put it lightly, they beat the bill off the Ducks. Not even Gordon Bombay and Charlie Conway could’ve saved Anaheim. These may all be starting to sound the same, but holy smokes Pekka Rinne was superb yet again. He made many quality saves, and several of those came when the Predators were on a 4 minute penalty kill. Pekka has played well enough to have one or two shutouts, but he just couldn’t quite find a perfect game until Saturday. The best part of Rinne’s performance? He denied professional ass hat Corey Perry on a number of occasions. The penalty kill was a perfect 6/6. Obviously Rinne’s play was a huge part of that, but that special teams unit is perfect in the month of November. If the power play and penalty kill can get going at the same time, the Preds may beat everyone 8-0. James Neal remains hotter than P.K. Subban’s style. He had two goals on Saturday including a missile off the face-off and putting home a rebound on the power play. Viktor Arvidsson may be the hardest working player I’ve every watched in my life. He has no business winning battles in the corner with NHL defensemen, but he often does and did it again last night. On the penalty kill, he forced a turnover with hustle and physicality. He then slide the puck from behind the net right onto the stick of a charging Colton Sissons who put it home behind John Gibson. I’ve saved the best part of last night’s game for last… HE DID IT! FILIP FORSBERG SCORED! THE WAIT IS OVER! After busting his ass all season and getting a million chances, Prince Filip Finally buried one.
— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) November 13, 2016
Oh yeah, he also had a beautiful assist on Ryan Ellis’s goal.
The Bad- This physically hurts me to type this, but P.K. Subban did not have a good game. He just couldn’t stay out of the penalty box. In the second period, he tallied 6 penalty minutes. He took a double minor for high sticking and also got whistled for elbowing. Granted, both of those offenses came against Corey Perry so I can kind of let it slide this once.
The Ugly- Not much from the Preds’ end of things so I’ll just say Corey Perry. He has a face only a mother could like.
This week, the Predators showcased just how great they really are. Their scorers are scoring, their defenders are defending, and Pekka was Pekka. By the way, Rinne posted a .976 Save% and a Goals Against Average of 0.677 this week. From looking at the info available on hockeyviz.com (check them out if you are interested in getting a more complex and in depth look at Preds’ games), things are trending up for our beloved Predators. They are limiting high danger chances on defense and generating more quality chances on offense. Welcome to the 2016-2017 season, boys. Let’s have some fun.
Grading the Preds
Each week, we grade the Predators on a scale of Andrei Kostitsyn to Tomas Vokoun.
This week’s grade-
Kimmo Timonen- A very very good week from the Preds. Not perfect, though. Turnovers are still an issue and the power play has gone rather cold. However, they were incredibly consistent and put together some great efforts in this 3-0-0 week. Like Kimmo, they were almost as good as it gets. I REALLY wanted to give them a Vokoun this week, but I feel like they may have another gear.
Little Caesar’s Hot N’ Sweaty Preds Facebook Take of the Week
“Why does PK take so much time off? Worries me as a fan since he hasn’t been playing his best this season.” Connor L.
No maintenance days in an 82 game season, dammit! The NHL is getting soft! Make them skate everyday so they become hockey tough! Congrats, Connor! You win a game worn mouthpiece right out of the jaws of former Preds prospect, Ryan Parent!
That’s it for an outstanding week in Smashville! Follow us on Twitter (@Hockey_615) and like us on Facebook!