Welcome to the November 10, 2013 Predlines Morning Skate – Sunday Edition. Thanks for visiting us this morning. The Sunday Skate is a little different, this morning we will share a couple of quick thoughts about the current state of the Preds.
Your Nashville Predators got off to a slow start on Friday against the Winnipeg Jets and could not come back from the Jets’ four-goal first period but the game opened up a couple of different scenarios to discuss.
The Preds have played six games without their all-star goaltender Pekka Rinne. Carter Hutton has started all six of those games and posted a 3-2-1 record, gaining 7 of a possible 12 points. At the end of the day, it comes down to wins and losses and 7 points for every 6 games would have the Preds right in the mix for one of the last playoff spots at the end of the season but my concern goes a little deeper. Hutton has been pulled in both of the regulation losses, once midway through the third and once eight minutes in. Against Phoenix, Hutton let in a soft goal that started the Phoenix comeback that led to a shootout loss. Hutton’s save percentage in those six games is .877. That save percentage would tie Hutton for 40th out of 42 qualifying goaltenders and his actual .898 is not much better.
For a team that does not historically score a lot of goals, Hutton has to be better for long-term success. The Preds had Magnus Hellberg up for a week and he only saw action when Hutton was pulled. Marek Mazanec is backing up Hutton now and stopped 22 of 24 shots in relief on Friday. I don’t think its time to panic yet, but the Preds need to give Mazanec a shot soon to take some of the pressure of Hutton. If Hutton doesn’t think he has to replace superman by himself, he might be a little more comfortable and successful.
Another twist on Friday night was Trotz moving around the defensive pairs. Mattias Ekholm and Roman Josi both spent some time with Shea Weber on the top pair. In turn, Seth Jones spent some time on the third pair. This is less an indictment on Jones than a reward for Ekholm in a game where the Preds could experiment. While Jones ultimately played in 82 games last year (61 regular season, 21 playoffs), he did so against kids his age. He is now being asked to play against grown men and play important minutes. Jones is still just a kid and a couple minutes off or against a team’s third or fourth line will help to keep his legs fresh over a long season.
Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts and don’t forget to check back later for a game preview of the Preds and Devils.