The Nashville Predators have an identity problem. They don’t have an energy line. They can’t kill penalties. They have one scoring line. Players are having issues with positioning. Rinne is having some struggles at a time when the team is experiencing so many other problems.
Right now, the Predator’s depth is being over utilized. It feels like Coach Trotz is trying to run four scoring lines. The truth is that the Predators have too much depth for three scoring lines, but not enough right now for four (when Lombardi becomes healthy, that could change). Even if they had the depth for four scoring lines, should the even run four? I don’t think so. That makes every line “think” too much. They need that line that can go out and just play “balls to the wall” and inject some energy to the team. They have the players for that (Tootoo, Smithson, Spaling, and Ward to a lesser extent), but are not doing it.
Multiple thoughts on the Predator’s power play woes:
First, move Weber to the left point and Suter to the right point. It is practically impossible for either to launch a one-timer while receiving the other’s pass. The physical inability to launch a one-timer from the point gives the defenders the tactical advantage of being able to easily pressure the points while playing deeper in the box. This gives the Predator forwards no room to operate and leads to more turnovers. While certain plays/formations allow for point players to swap positions (like the umbrella), it takes longer to do that when they don’t start out in their proper positions.
Speaking of the umbrella formation, the Predators need to focus on this formation. Why? First, it’s simple. Right now, the players need to quit thinking too much. Secondly, it’s designed for at most two passes and then a shot on net. Finally, it’s the best formation for the personnel that the Predators have. It should result in a highly successful conversation rate if the proper people are on the ice and plays properly executed. Want to know more about the umbrella formation? Check out Jeremy Weiss’ short 4:54 video (and pay attention to how he emphasizes which hand a player shoots from when determining their position). After watching that, imagine that formation being run with Suter at the middle point, Weber at the left point, Steve Sullivan or Sergei Kostitsyn at the right point, and both Patric Hornqvist and Colin Wilson in front of the net to knock home rebounds and dig out the puck from the corners.
If there’s anyone on the Predators that should stay on the ice for practically the whole duration of a power play, it’s Patric Hornqvist. Net presence is extremely important and no one else on the Predators can do what Hornqvist does. Cody Franson can do a lot of what Shea Weber does on the power play (and some things better like getting a shot on net), but no one can as adequately replace Hornqvist.
Speaking of Shea Weber, more shots must be put on net. While it’s great to see one go through the net, the goal tender, or your teammate (ok, maybe not the latter), it’s better to see one just get to the net and have the opportunity to actually score or be knocked in from a rebound.
As for the penalty kill, Nick Spaling is usually the driver of any success. Legwand is probably second, but is a fair margin from Spaling. Smithson has regressed over the past two years. Kostitsyn is essentially untried in Nashville on the kill. While I know that there has been some benefit of spreading the kill duties around, it’s also created more for everyone to learn. Like the power play, I’d simplify as much as possible and really have true role players.
The Predator’s have the motto of “Together” this year. I think it’s a great motto and really fits this team for a couple reasons. First, it represents being there for one another and standing up from one another when times get tough. Secondly though, it really fits a team that is built on a lot of role players that, when brought “together”, make a great team. That truly defines the Nashville Predators at their best. Right now? Too many pages in the book and no roles defined.
You are invited to follow me on twitter: @SingletonPreds.
Humane Society of Dickson County Annual Christmas Auction
The Humane Society of Dickson County will hold their annual Christmas Auction December 3 – 4 at the War Memorial Building in downtown Dickson, TN. The auction will be open from 5pm – 9pm on Friday, 12/3, and 10am – 3pm on Saturday, 12/4. All proceeds from the auction help keep the shelter open, staff paid, and the animals fed.
Below is just a small sampling of the items up for auction this year. Other items include many other gift certificates (including national chain restaurants), baskets, and crafts. I’ll continually update the list below in future.
The auction is a silent auction, but for those that can’t make it to Dickson, they will offer proxy bidding.
For more information, please email my lovely wife Renee.
Commemorative Titans Memorabilia Donated by the Tennessee Titans
UPDATE: Jerred Smithson-Autographed Puck Donated by the Nashville Predators
About the Author: Nashville Predators Blogger, Software Engineer (C#.NET), Novice Woodworker, Southern Cook, Husband, Father of Two. You may contact me at David.R.Singleton AT gmail.com.