Welcome to the November 24, 2013 Predlines Morning Skate – Sunday Edition. Thanks for visiting us this morning. The Sunday Skate is a little different, we will share a couple of quick thoughts about the current state of the Preds.
The Nashville Predators lost 2-0 last night to the New York Rangers. They were shutout for an NHL-leading fifth time this season and it was against the Rangers’ backup goalie. The Rangers grinded the Preds down and basically played Predator hockey to beat the Predators. The game really highlighted a couple of ongoing themes for the Preds.
The Preds are going to continue to struggle to score goals. Despite the recent success, they are not a team with elite offensive talent. They do not have any guys that really strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenses. The Preds biggest offensive threat is the power play. As we noted the other day, the Preds are 10-0-1 when they score a power play goal. After last night, the Preds are now 1-10-1 when they do not score on the power play. Scoring on the power play is not simply about adding a goal to the scoreboard, it changes the dynamic of the game and provides a boost for the team. Also, it often puts Nashville in the lead which makes it easier to play their style of game. Power play opportunities are also generally indicative of how the team is playing. When Nashville is playing hard, they are aggressively fore-checking and this often leads to drawing penalties.
A pretty good indicator of who will make the playoffs is to take a look at the goal differential. Presently, 6 of the 8 current playoff teams in the East and all 8 of the current playoff teams in the West have a positive goal differential. Nashville is currently at minus 15 and only 5 teams are worse. To make matters worse, Nashville is plus 3 combining the special teams, which makes them minus 18 at even strength.
One thing that has gone better than expected is the play of Marek Mazanec. Mazanec was slated to split time in Milwaukee with Magnus Hellberg while Carter Hutton backed up Pekka Rinne. The Rinne injury put a wrench in these plans and it has been Mazanec who came to the rescue after Hutton struggled. Mazanec has posted a 3-3-0 record in 7 games, but has deserved better. His 2.32 gaa and .929 are right what the Preds would have expected with Rinne. Mazenec has given the Preds a chance to win every night he is in and just needs to start stealing one here and there.
All the pieces are in place for the Preds to succeed, they just have to do it within their system and within their roster. Hard work will lead to power play chances and then they just have to take advantage.
The Preds take on Phoenix at home Monday night. Check in with us daily for full coverage and thanks for stopping by this morning.