The Nashville Predator’s Quarterly Review
By: Miranda Martin
It’s hard to believe, but Tuesday’s game against the Sharks marked the 13th game and the beginning of the second quarter of the shortened NHL season for the Predators.
Currently, the Predators are ranked 5th in the Western Conference with 16 points and have a record of 6-3-4. Out of the 13 games the Predators have played, 7 of them have seen extra time, with five of them going to a shootout. While 5th is good, the Predators are just 3 points from being 9th in the conference, and only 7 points from being in the cellar of the conference and league. Out of their 6 wins, three of them have been in regulation, while the others were found in free hockey or the shootout.
There were some positive moments about the first quarter, particularly with the defense. Initially, the defense terrified the fans, losing the first two games in the shootout. Now, with the fairly new defensive core starting to balance out, the Predators are ranked 2nd in the NHL with a goals against average of 1.77 per game, and goaltender Pekka Rinne is tied for the league. The penalty kill is ranked 4th in the league with an 84% kill record.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the offense (still.) The team’s goals for statistic matches their goals against with 1.77. They are the only team in the NHL that does not average at least 2 goals per game. The power play is currently ranked 24th in the league, with a road power play conversion of just 7%. Of course, the team’s shot average still has a decisive hold on last in the league. The Predators overtime goal last night broke the newest record of most consecutive time without a goal. The team went eight consecutive periods without a goal.
The Sharks game was a good start to the second quarter. After just 2 embarrassing shots on goal in the first period, the Predators were able to outshoot the Sharks in the 2nd period, and tied them with 25 shots on goal.
For this next quarter, it’s obvious what the Predators need to work on to contend through the first half. Average 2-3 goals per game and give the defense a rest. Getting 25 shots against the Sharks was progress on the goal front was a good start, but the 2 shot cease fire in the first period of the Sharks game never needs to happen again. Pekka Rinne has to continue playing to his Hart’s desire. The power play needs to be just as special as the penalty kill. For the offense, everyone needs to channel the injured Patric Hornqvist and get in front of the net, rather than playing in the boards or corners.
This is the quarter that can set the rest of the season up and show which teams are in it for the long haul. The Predators need their previous seasons’ home advantage to come to life, considering over half of the games are at home. The offense will have to learn to score in regulation, and the defense must stay strong when the team finds a lead. The team’s record is technically just below .500 right now. Gaining two points without going into extra time is the main key.
Oh, and Preds, a friendly little PSA: NO MORE THREE POINT GAMES. Thank you.