Friday Face-Offs, 2/25/2011

Just another ho-hum week for Nashville Predators’ fans.  Since last week’s Friday Face-Offs, Nashville has gone 0-3-0, lost Suter for a game, lost Goc for the year, and let slip that O’Reilly is also out for the year.

And, to top it all off, Nashville sees themselves in 9th place in the Western Conference this morning.

On the bright side, Jonathon Blum has looked very, very good since being called up.

In honor of the week that was, I’ve got a new section today:

What the Hell?

  • What the hell is Steve Sullivan doing on any line other than with J.P. Dumont?  I love Sully.  But it’s a fact that he’s not been playing well, even long before the injury.  He’s even softer on the puck and turns the puck over frequently.  Icing him with Dumont might help rekindle the chemistry between the two.  If not, it still allows Trotz to hide both if necessary.
  • Why is Colin Wilson playing on a line with Smithson?  With the center issues this team has, move him to center and let Spaling move back to the Smithson line along with Tootoo.  Nashville is offensively challenged enough as it is, there’s no need to make life more difficult.
  • Why the hell was Marek Svatos waived?  This team has been especially bad about not putting pucks on net (more on that in a minute), and he’s one of the few that can do so.  Svatos should have been kept and given a better shot.  One of Ward or Tootoo should have been rotated onto the Smithson-Spaling line and the other scratched (or, you could scratch Dumont and ice Ward with Sullivan on the fourth line).  (Update: with Sullivan going on IR, put Ward with Dumont and Tootoo with Smithson and Spaling.)
  • Nashville’s biggest problem right now?  Forget the inability to put pucks on net.  You can’t shoot the puck if never possess it.  Gaining the offensive zone and maintaining possession of the puck is the biggest concern right now.  Barry Trotz needs to make some decisions.  You want to gain the zone?  Fine, don’t let Steve Sullivan bring the puck up.  Right now, Ryan Suter, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Blum are just about the only players that can consistently bring the puck up through the zone without turning the puck over.  On the miracle that they actually gain the zone,  they fire one shot (not necessarily on goal) and then heads back the other way since no one can either win the battle or, more often,  no support is given in an effort to ensure they play defense first.  Until you solve this problem, you can’t put pucks on net.
  • Right after they figure out how to maintain puck possession, maybe someone can figure out how to ice an effective power play.    It’s about time to show some results for all that “accountability” Trotz assumed following last season’s abysmal power play.

Trade Deadline Discussion

Poile’s stated that he’s talking every day with his “29 closest friends” (Updated to add the proper link to Joshua Cooper’s blog entry.).  For all we know, he could be asking them about the weather.  The Fisher trade appears to taken up the vast majority of the available budget this year, but we don’t know that.  So, putting money aside, let’s focus on what Nashville needs.

With Goc’s injury, it would appear that center is a problem again.  While it is a problem, this team should be fine running Legwand and Fisher as their top two centers and then putting Colin Wilson or potentially a call-up from Milwaukee as the center on that third scoring line.  We’re talking about a third scoring line here, the fourth line overall for the Predators.  Unless you’re bringing in Brad Richards (uh, no), you’re not going to find another center that’s going to be leaps and bounds better than Legwand and Fisher.  Besides, benches are typically shortened somewhat in the playoffs anyway.

Defensively, the Predators are playing very well.  Even while absorbing injuries to Suter (twice) and Bouillon, the Predators are one of the top teams defensively.  They also have one of the best goaltenders out there in Rinne.  Blum has come in and played extremely well.  There’s a line of top-flight prospects right behind Blum as well (that will eventually be traded for peanuts- like Sulzer today).

The Predators need three things:

  • A legitimate top six, goal-scoring, forward that’s going to pot 35+ goals and 70+ points every year.
  • Money to keep them here along with the rest of the core.
  • The balls to make the moves necessary to get that forward.

Don’t hold your breath.

The Week That Was

The Predators dropped three straight decisions in regulation this week to Phoenix, Columbus and Chicago (with the latter two being shutouts).  I think I’ve already said enough, so I’ll leave it at that.

The Week Ahead for Nashville (All Times CST)

Well, the Predators see a week where they should be favored in three of the four games putting their current slump aside.  We’ll see how they respond to the pressure that’s really mounting.

  • Saturday, 2/26 – at Dallas @ 1pm (FSN)
  • Sunday, 2/27 – vs. Columbus @ 2pm (No TV)
  • Monday, 2/28 – 2011 NHL Trade Deadline @ 2pm
  • Tuesday, 3/1 – at Edmonton @ 8:30pm (FSN)
  • Thursday, 3/3 – at Vancouver @ 9pm (FSN)


You are invited to follow me on Twitter (@SingletonPreds).  For game recaps of all Predators games, check out my HockeyIndependent colleague, Mark Willoughby (@TheViewFrom111).


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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

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