So Many Goals for the Gold Team
So Many Goals for the Gold Team @brandon_felder
The Nashville Predators began the week not being able to bury a chance despite their numerous attempts. One week later they experienced 2 games in which they scored 7 goals. Here’s a look at the wild week that was for the Preds.
Saturday the 7th featured one of the Predators best efforts and most fluent attacks using the Laviolette system. The problem? Despite a 45 shots on goal effort Nashville could not get a single puck past St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen. A 4-0 loss that left Smashville perplexed because the game felt like a 6-4 win should have occurred. Maybe it would have if the net were a touch bigger.
Tuesday night the Ottawa Senators came in ready to play and take advantage of the Preds confusion over how they lost Saturday. The Sens stormed out to a 3-1 lead in the 1st period. The Predators sensing they could not let up against an Eastern opponent turned on the gas heading into the 2nd period. 3 straight Pred goals to build a 4-3 lead and things looked normal. Except this game was far from normal. By the end of the 2nd frame the teams combined for 5 goals and Ottawa held onto a 5-4 lead to enter the 3rd period. The wild affair continued as the Preds were the only team to tally in the 3rd and did so 3 times to capture a 7-5 victory in front of an exhausted crowd in Music City.
How do you follow that up? Well the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing a different brand of hockey under new Head Coach Mike Babcock, although the style is familiar to many as Babcock knows just how to slow the opponents down. He did just that as neither team scored until the 3rd period. After a 1-1 tie could not be broken things went not only into a 3 on 3 OT but eventually a shootout. The Leafs got the better of Nashville in that skills contest and won the game 2-1.
Saturday night against another Central opponent promised to be a fun way to end the week. This “Golden Saturday” was not disappointing. The Jets came into the game struggling. Due to that the Preds’ gameplan was to get on them early and break the spirit of Winnipeg. They executed the gameplan but there was so much more in this game. In what clearly was the most chippy game of the year you had penalty boxes with 6 players for both teams, Mattias Ekholm giving the old “Scoreboard” chirp, and oh yeah for the 2nd time on the week 7 goals FOR the Preds. We will see come January if things stay so unchill with the Jets but let’s say they won’t forget the 7-0 loss and 156 combined penalty minutes soon if I had to guess.
Felder’s Fantastic Five:
Respond or react using the #PredsItC5
1. So Many Shots and then So Many Goals - The Preds have a style and that is getting shots on goal. Not just some, but at least 30 per game. They actually are tied for the NHL best 31.7 shots per game average with the Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks (seriously, the Central Division is overloaded). Of the 4 games played last week the Preds were held to under 30 SOG just once, the Toronto SO loss. Along with those shots are of course goals hopefully. The Preds average an even 3 goals per game, placing them 6th in the NHL for that stat. It’s doubtful the Preds tally 15 goals a week but the only way you can score is by shooting and the Preds are doing a good job finding a way to get those in handfuls.
2. Create Shots, but Prevent the Opponents - So we talked about Shots for, but there is also Shots Against. The key to being so successful 5 on 5 stems from the Preds D preventing those shots from getting to Pekka Rinne. The Preds have the 3rd best SA per Game stat with only allowing 27.2. Nashville has only allowed 37 goals this year (3rd best in the NHL), but of those 37 only 22 are from 5 on 5 play which ranks 2nd best to only the New York Rangers. Just great stats on both sides of the ice which show why the Preds have played so well.
3. Seriously, these Faceoff Stats - The great weakness of the Preds. I almost feel like there will need to be a weekly update of where things stand with this one. Right now as a team the Preds have an NHL worst 45.7%. The worst percentage for a regular belongs to Mike Ribeiro still with 29.9%. I know plenty of people feel that faceoffs aren’t as important as they used to be. I do somewhat agree when you go back and look at the %’s of recent Stanley Cup winning teams. That said, in a possession league it helps to get it right off the dot.
4. Imposing Your Will - If there is one thing that is often quoted after games in the NHL, it’s the phrase, “We gotta play our game.” Well, the Preds have been doing just that for the most part. Not only are they playing their style (or game) but they’ve been adaptable. When they get in those tight checking games they switch to counter that with physicality while still getting their shots. The Ottawa game was one of those “resilient” efforts where it became a track meet, so they opened it up and played it loose and fast. The Jets game was the epitome of imposing your will on the opponent. They got on Winnipeg from the jump and never let go, even when the Jets tried to throw things off with penalties and questionable hits on Seth Jones knee. This style of play has proven it can be successful in the regular season. Now we have to see if this season the Preds can keep that pace the whole year.
5. A 4th Line to Love - In part due to injuries, the Preds iced a very different 4th line on Tuesday vs Ottawa. The pre-game line rushes showed the 4th line would be Colton Sissons, Austin Watson, and Gabriel Bourque. Upon seeing that I tweeted the following from @brandon_felder “Can I just say that I love that 4th line on paper. Really want to see what they accomplish. #PredsItC”. They went out and propelled the Preds to that 7-5 win. Watson led the way and should have been 1st Star of the game with his goal, 2 assists, and +4 rating against the Sens. Bourque finished with a goal, assist, and +4 rating. Sissons added a goal as well. Although most of the team was quiet against Toronto, the 4th line maintained high level play there and against the Jets. At the risk of jinxing them, I wanted to point out that the 4th line has yet to be scored on at even strength. It’s a 4th line that is easy to embrace and currently going to make it very hard on Laviolette to let Paul Gaustad and Eric Nystrom back into the lineup.
3 Stars of the Week:
1. Seth Jones – 1 goal, 4 assists, +3, and 7 shots on goal.
2. Filip Forsberg – 3 assists, +1, and 5 shots on goal.
3. Calle Jarnkrok – 2 goals, +1, and 5 shots on goal.
Pekka Rinne - B- – Mr. Rinne started all 4 games played this past week. It was a week that started off not so great and finished with an ImPEKKAble note. The stats on the week: 87 saves on 97 shots on goal. Of those 10 goals given up 4 were PP goals for the opposition. The hope is Rinne continues to build of the Saturday shutout for the 2 games he will start this upcoming week.
Perilous Prediction – Last week I went with a Perilous Prediction of seeing a fight in each of the Central Division games. That would have meant 2 fights on the week. I’m taking half credit on this one since we did see 2 fights in the Winnipeg game. That alone was surprising considering how little we see fights in the NHL these days.
This week my Perilous Prediction is that James Neal breaks back out with 3 goals over 3 games.
Join in with your own Perilous Prediction by using the #PredsItCPP
The Week Ahead – The week ahead features a 3 game slate, including a back-to-back.
Tuesday will be the last time the Predators and Anaheim Ducks skate against each other in the regular season. I know, it’s been so quick considering the Preds have only played 3 games against the Central Division and now played all 3 against Anaheim. Gotta love wacky schedules. The Ducks had appeared to turn things around on home ice after they won 3 in a row there and then a 4th game in a row at San Jose. But the last week has not been kind to the Ducks who head into their Carolina matchup having lost 3 in a row in which they’ve given up 4 goals in each game. Note that Anaheim plays Monday night in Carolina before heading to Music City for their 7 PM CST game in Smashville.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have not had a good start as they crumbled under high expectations. They fired Todd Richards and then instead of using an interim they hired John Tortorella on a 3-year contract to be the Jackets Head Coach. Since then the team has been adjusting to doing things the Torts way, which sometimes includes scratching star players. Nonetheless, they are starting to play a better brand of hockey than we saw to start the year. They’ve won 4 of their last 6 as of this writing with wins over the Sharks, Kings, Coyotes, and Penguins. They do play Thursday night in Ottawa before getting to host the Predators on Friday in Columbus for a 6 PM CST start. They have just 1 win at home, but to be honest they haven’t played there much posting a 1-6 record. The back-to-back games will mean Carter Hutton gets a shot in net. I will be curious to know which game, but I think it may be this one. I know I’m excited for this game because I get to watch it with my buddy Danny who is a big CBJ fan from Ohio and the only other hockey guy at my church. Get a win for me Preds!
The week ends in Minnesota for a 2nd date with the Wild. You can be sure they haven’t forgotten the 4-3 loss they took just a couple weeks ago that also saw their star Zach Parise go out with injury. Since that loss the Wild have won 3 of 4 games played. The update on Parise is that with his knee sprain it’s a week-to-week evaluation as to his return. It’s doubtful he returns for this game. This matchup will be the toughest of the week since it is the back half of the back-to-back and the only opponent of the week to not have a game the night before playing the Preds. Game time is set for 7 PM EST and with it being a Central Division game it will be my Game of the Week.
Last week I said the Preds would garner 5 points after going 2-1-1. They did exactly that!
This week my #PredsItCWAP is a 2-1 effort for 4 points.
Feel free to add your own prediction for the week at #PredsItCWAP.
Thanks for reading PredNeck Nation. Want to talk hockey on Twitter? Follow me @brandon_felder and don’t be shy to join in the chatter. Remember it’s a year long conversation using the #PredsItC.
Also, this season for any game I’m watching live I will be using Periscope to do Intermission chats. If you’d like to see what that looks like you can go search BJFelder on YouTube to see the videos posted from this past week. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed to see which games that occurs and please join in and talk some hockey with me there if you’d like to ask questions about the game live or just hear some analysis that is not driven by Willy and Stu. Really hope you will consider joining me there.
Till the next time, take care and as always #WeWantWeber.