It’s been a couple of weeks since my last blog due to all sorts of things, so I wanted to try quickly touch base on several topics as the Predators head into the last game of this home stand against the Sharks.
Predators On a Roll
Since I last blogged, the Predators have gone on a 5-0-1 streak. Anders Lindback has done a fantastic job of stepping up after Pekka Rinne’s injury. Sergei Kostitsyn is starting to make his signing look very good. Martin Erat has seemed to find line mates in Marcel Goc and Kostitsyn with which he has great chemistry. Suter seems to have fully returned from his injury. The penalty kill units have returned to killing penalties at a rate much more consistent with Predators history prior to last season. Their 5-5 G/GA ratio is 9th best in the league.
The standard platitudes are starting to be seen again like “Trotz is squeezing every ounce of talent out of that roster” as the Predators have climbed to fourth in the Western Conference (going into tonight’s games). (That’s a platitude that’s always bothered me anyway as I just don’t believe it’s true.)
It’s Not All Roses Though
The end of last season saw enormous focus put on the power play for this season. Having a power play that struggled to get to 16.4% during the regular season and then going a mind-boggling bad 3.7% (1-27) in the playoffs will do that. This resulted in Barry Trotz assuming full responsibility for the power play this season and vowing that it would get better.
Now that Nashville has played 35% of their schedule, how has that renewed emphasis translated to results? Through 29 games, the Predators are converting their power play opportunities at a rate of 13.1%. That’s 3.3% worse than last year. That is significantly better than last season’s playoffs though. That’s something I suppose.
One might point to the past two games in saying they are getting better as they converted 3-8 opportunities. Trotz has seemed to settle on a couple of units (notably having Cody Franson on the top unit with Weber on the second unit- a choice I happen to agree with until Weber can get more shots through/on-net), so they may be getting better. However, it’s hard to consider that a trend just now. It was only two games, one was an empty net score and the other two came against the woeful New York Islanders (ranked 22nd in the league at killing penalties).
Hopefully the recent play will be a confidence booster for the Predators power play and they can continue their efforts towards icing a credible power play (credible being somewhere around 18%). If this team can do that, they increase their small margin of error and decreases the likelihood of going on long losing streaks when one area of the game is breaking down. If they can do that, their chances of advancing beyond the first round of the playoffs go up considerably.
Enough catching up. Tonight brings a visit from the San Jose Sharks. Always a tough draw for Nashville, they have the added necessity of shutting down an incredibly strong second line led by Ryan Clowe and Logan Couture. I expect to see Lindback in net again hoping to extend his streak. Josh Cooper has reported that Kostitsyn is on the ice this morning and ready to play after taking a puck to the foot from a Shea Weber-shot in the Islanders game.
Weather might be an issue for those travelling to the game tonight, so please be careful.
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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.