A Little Perspective: Scoring Solutions
By: Miranda Martin
After a frustrating weekend, the Nashville Predators have to find momentum that found them a winning streak once again.
It’s simple: the Predators need to score. The Nashville Predators are ranked 30th in the league for goals per game with 1.8, and they have been shut out in 3 of their first 11 games—nearly 25% of their games. The best news is that the team ranks 3rd in the league for goals against per game, with 1.9. But he offense has to give the defense some help with more than a goal or two per game.
The horse has been beaten so bad that dental records are used for recognition, but the Nashville Predators need to shoot. It is hard to win games when the first half of the game has only three shots on goal. If there was a drinking game for every shot that the Predators took, people would be disappointingly sober. It isn’t unusual for the Preds to be in the bottom of the league for average shots per game—the team was ranked 25th last year with an average of 27.6. But in order just to get back to that level, the team would have to average 35-40 shots on goal for 5 consecutive games.
Beyond shots, chances have not been found in the offensive zone, either. The players are not getting into the right position to even get a decent shot on goal. Against Minnesota, the Predators had 26 shots on goal—an outlier in comparison to the shot counts in the teens. However, many of those chances were point blank and easy for goaltender Niklas Backstrom to stop. Odd-man rushes have been broken up by the opposing team or lost communication. The team looks like it’s communicating about as much as Taylor Swift and whatever boyfriend she has this week.
There are still eight players on the Predators team who has yet to have a point this season. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has more offensive points than one third of the team! Martin Erat, with missing a game, leads the team in goals (3) and points (7), but he is ranked 114th in the league in scoring. Buffalo Sabres Left Winger Tomas Vanek, who leads the league in points (23) has more points than the Predators first line of Erat, Fisher, and Kostitsyn… combined. Actually, the top 15 points leaders in the league have more points individually than the first line combined (which is 13, if anyone is counting). Vanek is only 5 points shy of having both Predators main scoring lines beat.
It’s uncertain just what it is that needs to be done to get this team scoring. Maybe the team needs an incentive. Create a Predators-exclusive “shot clock,” where Pekka Rinne bangs his stick on the ice (like the end of a power play) whenever the team hits a certain amount of time in the offensive zone without a shot, and the player who has it must shoot it at least toward the net. Give the team a goal of 30 shots per game, with a stretch of 40, and if they don’t make it, have management yell at them for not making quota. Heck, make a gold star chart for every scoring chance, with a cookie for the first player to finish his row.
Something must be done. Averaging 2 goals per game does not add up to 2 points in the standings.
A team must score to win. A team must shoot to score. A team must find scoring chances to shoot. It’s a basic chain of events that will lead beyond a point on the ice to 2 points where it matters.
The Predators play 5 of their next 6 games at home, which makes a great opportunity for some scoring momentum. The Predators face the San Jose Sharks tonight at 7 PM followed by the Phoenix Coyotes, who shut the team out earlier this season, on Thursday.