Here It Goes Again…
By: Miranda Martin
It was starting to look like the Nashville Predators were on to something on the scoring front.
After averaging just 21 shots per game in the first quarter of the season, the Predators knew they were going to need to start shooting for the victories. Out of the first 12 games alone, five of the Predator’s shot counts didn’t break 20. No opponent has seen less than 20 shots against the Preds this season. After just 17 shots when the Predators were shutout by Chicago, the shot count clicked up. In the past 6 games after that game, the Preds have averaged 29 shots on goal. Though the team still is in the cellar for shots in the NHL, the average has increased to 23.7 shots per game, nearly 3 shots higher than their previous games. More so, the Predators had 15 goals in 5 games, averaging 3 goals/game and finally breaking the average 2 goals/game threshold for the season.
Against Vancouver last night, the first period for the Preds looked very promising. The Predators outshot Vancouver 13-3 in the period and were on pace for nearly 40 shots on goal. They also kept the Canucks from even taking their first shot until 7:33 into the frame. However, in the final two periods, the Predators suddenly looked like the team that had played the night before, not Vancouver. The Predators became lackluster in offense, and Vancouver ended up outshooting the team 21-10 in the final forty minutes. After Vancouver scored, the Predators only took 4 shots in the final ten minutes as their “resilient comeback.” Last night’s loss also marked the fourth shutout against the Nashville Predators this season.
Of course, more shots won’t always win games. In the high-scoring loss against Colorado Monday night, the Predators had 38 shots on goal—12 of which came from Patric Hornqvist in his return from injury. But a team cannot win on averaging just one shot per 4 minutes in the second or third period. Scoring opportunities are also crucial beyond shots on goal. There were low amounts of scoring chances for each team last night, which will be an important statistic in any victory.
Going against Detroit tonight, the Predators will have to focus on retaining that first period mentality for a full sixty minutes. Detroit have lost 5 games in a row and are looking for revenge for Tuesday’s overtime loss against the Preds. The Red Wings, averaging 29.2 shots/game (14th in league, 7th in conference), will not only be coming in with shots, but with players like Pavel Datsyuk (who can make a scoring chance out of anything) and Henrik Zetterberg will be surging with true scoring chances. The Predators will have to find the net as well as the capability to score should the Wings take first blood.
Tonight’s faceoff at Joe Louis Arena is at 6:00 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports TN as well as NHL Network.