The Predators continue to frustrate Smashville with their inconsistency after a 1-2-0 week. We take a deeper look in this week’s Week In Review.

11/15/16 @ Toronto

The Good- Okay, so not very much good here. There never will be in a 6-2 loss. The penalty kill stayed hot by killing all 1 penalty they had to kill. James Neal stayed hot as he finished off a beautiful feed from Ryan Johansen in the 1st period. During his hot streak, Neal did a wonderful job of finding the quiet spots in the offensive end, being ready for the pass, then burying the puck. That’s certainly an excellent sign for the Predators going forward. By far the biggest bright spot in this game was Viktor Arvidsson.

I cannot say enough good things about Viktor Arvidsson. I’ve said it before, but he has no business winning one on one battles in the NHL, yet he does it all the time. On Tuesday his speed was on full display. Arvidsson is one of the leading scorers on the Preds and he has earned every point he’s gotten so far this season. Watching him work is a ton of fun and I personally look forward to watching what else he has in store for the rest of the season.

The Bad- Nashville struggled defensively at times this game. On the second Leafs goal, there was a bad bounce off of Mattias Ekholm’s skate involved, but it was still far too easy for James van Riemsdyk to walk in and get a shot off. The third Toronto goal came off a turnover, which created an odd man rush the other way. Craig Smith didn’t get back in time to cover Van Riemsdyk, and he got his second goal of the night. Goal number four for the Maple Leafs came when Ryan Ellis politely allowed Leo Komarov to stand in front of Marek Mazanec and tip in the shot from the point. Next time, offer him some tea while you’re at it, Ellis. All that said, it was relatively even as far as shots and scoring chances. So what was the difference? That answer can be found in The Ugly.

The Ugly- I have the utmost respect for Marek Mazanec. By all accounts, he seems like a a good person and teammate. However, I am here to give an honest and educated opinion on the Preds and Maz was terrible. I knew it was going to be bad after Mitch Marner just spun, threw the puck on net, and beat Mazanec to the far side. It was as bad a start as you could get for him, and it only got worse. He was shaky for 95% of the game, and he just didn’t look comfortable. Even on the goals that weren’t necessarily his fault, he looked lost. For instance, on the Leafs’ second goal where James Van Riemsdyk picked up his own rebound off of Ekholm’s skate and put it over Mazanec’s glove, Marek didn’t react until well after the shot had beaten him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Laviolette decides to give Maz one more start to right the ship, but it would also make sense for David Poile to trade for/sign a veteran backup. Right now, it feels like the Preds will have to score 5 or 6 goals to win a Mazanec start and that won’t cut it in December when the Preds have several back to back games.

Final: 6-2 *Leaves

11/17/16 @ Ottawa

The Good- I wish the Predators could play the Ottawa Senators for 82 games because if there’s one thing the 2016-2017 Preds do well, it’s beat the brakes off the Sens. They absolutely dominated 5 on 5 play. Take a look and the graph and shot chart from HockeyViz below.

hockeyviz.com
hockeyviz.com
hockeyviz.com
hockeyviz.com

As you can see, Nashville had their way in both shot generation and shot quality on Thursday night. Everyone got in on the action; even the fourth line. To start the game, Austin Watson just threw the puck toward the net with Colton Sissons coming in hard on Senator’s goalie, Mike Condon. Sissons was able to get the puck to tip in off his stick to give the Preds a 1-0 lead. Later in the 1st period, some great puck movement down low by Ribeiro and Forsberg opened up Ryan Ellis at the point and he absolutely blasted one home to make it 2-1. From there it was basically all Predators. Pontus Aberg, who has done very well in Milwaukee this year, notched his first career NHL goal when he went five hole on Condon on a 2-on-1 opportunity. P.K. Subban continues to light up the Senators. On Nashville’s fourth goal, he slid a perfect pass across the slot through three Senators to James Neal who continued his goal streak with a beautiful finish where mama hides the peanut butter (see below). Then, on the final goal of the night, Subban slid a perfect pass from his own red line to Ribeiro on the far blue line, and Ribeiro took a BREAKAWAY SLAP SHOT to beat Condon over the shoulder. What a crazy play that made me rethink my life. If was any good at this I would’ve saved a clip of that, but as it stands I am an amateur. Finally, it was Rinne’s first game after missing Tuesday dude to a minor injury. Despite that, he was just as dominant as he was before that. Considering Pekka has had some trouble coming back after injury in the past, this was a huge relief for Predator fans.

The Bad- All good things must come to an end. The Preds’ perfect penalty kill in November┬ácame to an end as Derick Brassard tallied on a power play in the 1st period. It wasn’t necessarily a bad penalty kill so much as it was a great shot by┬áBrassard. Pekka ducked it a little bit, but I can’t criticize him because he was money the rest of the game. To be fair though, the Predators penalty kill shut down the other five power play opportunities the Senators had the rest of the game.

The Ugly- James Neal at it again. At this point you just have to admire how few shits he gives.

Final: 5-1 Smashville

11/19/16 @ St. Louis

The Good- Despite giving up three goals, Pekka Rinne played well. As you’ll see later, the Blues got some shots off in some dangerous areas and Rinne turned away many of them. Rinne gave the Preds a chance to tie it late, but unfortunately the offense just wasn’t there. Filip Forsberg actually got 4 shots on goal in this on, but he continues to come up empty all but once. What’s encouraging wasn’t just the quantity of shots for Filip, but that they also came from high scoring areas. If he has more nights like he did Staurday, they’ll start to hit the back of the net for him and he’ll catch fire. The power play was able to break through due to traffic in front of the net which has been absent during this drought they’ve been in. Mike Ribeiro did some dirty work (I know, I can’t believe it either) and nudged in a rebound that got behind Jake Allen. Hopefully we’ll continue to see bodies in front of the net going forward. Also, James Neal landed a thunderous hit on professional douche nozzle Ryan Reaves.

The Bad- This was a relatively tight game. In fact, the Predators were only credited with 2 giveaways. Despite that, the Blues got too many quality shots in front of Rinne and they prevented Nashville from doing the same to Jake Allen.

hockeyviz.com
hockeyviz.com
hockeyviz.com
hockeyviz.com

These charts aren’t the end all be all, but a discrepancy that large can’t be ignored. Note the differences in between the circles. Lots of blue (and unfortunately red) for St. Louis. Too much white and grey (missed shots) for Nashville. The difference in the game came in the second half of the 3rd period. Nashville got too aggressive in the offensive end. On St. Louis’s second and third goals they got caught with four men deep in Blues territory. This made for easy transitions into odd man rushes for the Blues. On the first one, Rinne made the first save but couldn’t corral the rebound shot by Kyle Brodziak. On the second odd man rush, emotionless Soviet sniper Vladimir Tarasenko fired a bullet through the five hole of Pekka to make it a 3-1 game. What makes those goals against so frustrating is that they came off of elementary mistakes. You’re taught at a peewee level to cover for the defenseman if he pinches low in the offensive end. Nashville didn’t do that in St. Louis on Saturday and it burned them.

The Ugly- Like I said, this was a pretty tight checking game for the most part. The only really ugly play was Cody Bass falling at the blue line and gift wrapping a breakaway to Colton Parayko (he ended up missing). I couldn’t find a gif/video of it, but here’s some reaction tweets:

Final: 3-1 B. B. King’s genre

An up and down week for Nashville. More like down up down, but you get the point. This team has shown the ability to be one of the best teams in the league, but they don’t play that way game in and game out. Not even from one period to another sometimes. They have a huge opportunity this upcoming week with three home games against a couple quality opponents and Winnipeg. They’ve played well in Smashville thus far, so they have a chance to put some distance between themselves and a .500 record.

Grading the Predators

Every week, we grade the Predators on a scale from Andrei Kostitsyn to Tomas Vokoun.

This week’s grade:

NHL: FEB 24 Avalanche at Predators

Cody Franson (the 2nd time around): Not quite what I was hoping for/expecting.

Little Caesar’s Hot N’ Sweaty Preds Facebook Take of the Week

Smith should be benched. Direct cause of the last two goals. -Nick O.

No.

Congrats, Nick! You win a Preds keychain that was once on the key ring of former Preds defenseman, Bill Houlder! This prize brought to you by Movember.

That’s all, folks! Tune in next week fro a recap of the Preds 3-0 week! Follow us on Twitter (@Hockey_615) and like us on Facebook!

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