The Predators picked up their second home win on Saturday against the New York Islanders. The game showcased a number of positives in areas that will be key for continued success this season; the power play was successful, Seth Jones played important minutes and Pekka Rinne was solid when called upon. With five games under their belts, we are starting to learn a few things about how the team might shape up this season.
1. Seth Jones is going to have to grow up fast. Through five games this season, Jones is averaging 23:30 of time on ice which is good for 29th in the NHL and first among rookies. He is also being asked to contribute on special teams and step in on the top pairing in place of the injured Roman Josi. Leading up to the draft, Jones was thought by many to be the most NHL-ready player and he is proving it.
2. Pekka Rinne is going to be okay. Six shots into the season this might have still been a concern, but after four more games, Rinne has proven he is ready to go. He is returning from off-season hip surgery but his lateral movement does not appear to be affected. He also seems to be more comfortable in the net and not trying to do too much. Simplifying his game has allowed the defense core to be more effective in their own end. (Carter Hutton looked pretty good in relief too).
3. The Power Play is still a work in progress. With three goals through five games, the Preds are in the middle of the pack in power play percentage. The injuries to Viktor Stalberg and Roman Josi have slowed the implementation of the off-season work put in by Housley but there have been signs of life. The power play has been more effective in gaining possession in the offensive zone and pushing the puck to the net. This should lead to more changes over the course of the season and more success.
4. Goals are going to be hard to come by. The Preds have goals by nine different players and none with more than one. While Jones and Filip Forsberg have chipped in their first career goals, Shea Weber, Matt Cullen, Gabriel Bourque, Craig Smith and Matt Hendricks have yet to score, despite 42 combined shots.