You’d be hard pressed to find a single team in the NHL with more peaks and valleys this season than the Nashville Predators.
The Preds sprang from the opening gate, going 8-3-1 in their first 12 games, fueled by the league’s top ranked offense and backed by another Vezina caliber season from Pekka Rinne. After a 3-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks, the Preds were cruising towards the top of the league. They were confident, efficient, and healthy. Standing near the peak of the NHL standings, they had to feel like the league was theirs for the taking.
Then they fell quicker than a drunk on a mountain bike.
In the next nine games, the Preds won only once. They lost six games in regulation, several times with some embarrassingly lopsided final scores. The goaltending completely fell apart, with both Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros quickly becoming the worst goalie tandem in the league in a matter of weeks. The offense was still there, but inconsistency was beginning to take its toll. Then Kyle Turris got locked in a broom closet, with Peter Laviolette apparently holding the key.
The Preds went from competing for the league’s top spot on October 29th to struggling to stay out of its basement on November 21st.
So what to make of the last couple weeks then?
Have the Preds turned a corner?
After that terrible stretch in November, its easy to lose sight of what an actual good stretch of hockey looks like. You start to focus on just trying to win a single game, let alone trying to win two or more and climb back up in the standings.
But if you look back, since November 21st (which was the night the Canucks scored FIVE power play goals in Bridgestone Arena) the Preds have actually been doing just fine.
Going 4-1-2 in a seven game stretch, collecting 10 points of a possible 14, is success that most NHL teams would gladly take. Managing 71% of points possible over the course of a season would net you a 116 point season (the Nashville Predators won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2018 with 117 points).
Of course, the problem is that the Preds dug themselves such a deep hole in November that they are still caught in the orbit of last place in the Central. They currently hold a two point advantage over the Chicago Blackhawks with one game in hand.
So it’s difficult to grasp, but yes… I think they’ve turned a corner. They’ve managed to put the woes of November behind them, and they are picking up a little bit of steam heading into some crucial games in December. Even with Viktor Arvidsson and Mikael Granlund on the injured list, and even with their goaltending still not playing up to par, they’ve been a lot better in the last couple weeks.
Still, with the bipolar nature of this Nashville Predators team, you never know what the next stretch may bring.
GIF Me The Good Stuff
I still don’t understand how this wasn’t a game misconduct on Erik Cernak.
On what planet is this not the same exact penalty as the one on Ryan Johansen? #Preds
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) December 4, 2019
Preds Quote of the Week
“I felt like I played the exact same game I would have played if I hadn’t sat seven straight games.” – Kyle Turris on how he felt after getting a goal and an assist against the Tampa Bay Lightning, his first game back after a seven game healthy scratch vacation.
This one is the early leader for Preds quote of the year.
Get Them Digits
- 14 – points by Rocco Grimaldi this season, a career high for him
- 3.0 – shooting percentage by Craig Smith so far. His lowest in a season was 4.8% back in 2012-13 (commonly referred to as his worst professional season)
- 1625 – the number of days Yakov Trenin had to wait to score his first NHL goal after being drafted in 2015
- 41 – points by Philip Tomasino, the Preds’ top pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, in only 30 games. Most of these are primary points (goals + first assists) as well. He’s been stellar to start the season for the Niagara Ice Dogs.
Let’s Do That Hockey
A road trip to Buffalo sandwiched between two tough opponents on home ice.
- Tuesday, December 10th vs San Jose Sharks (7:00 PM; FS-TN)
- Thursday, December 12th @ Buffalo Sabres (6:00 PM; FS-TN)
- Saturday, December 14th vs Dallas Stars (5:30 PM; FS-TN)
In this week’s Preds NashCast, Link and I discuss:
- Craig Smith’s bizarre season so far
- Why the NHL season should be shortened
- Minimum suspensions for hits to the head
- Defending Daniel Carcillo, following his statements about Peter Laviolette
Check out the direct link below, or check it out on iTunes or Spotify!
Finally, I just want to say thanks for reading this column every week. I try my best to bring you consistent quality coverage on the Nashville Predators to start your week off right, and I do put considerable effort into this column to make sure it is engaging but also concise. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read these words and never hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter (@AlexDaugherty1) if you like what you see here.
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —