Everyone was impressed with the Samuel Girard during the pre-season, but that’s over. The regular season has begun and the Nashville Predators want to win.
A poor performance from the Nashville Predators left many nervous about the season going forward. It’s obviously too early to hit the panic button on the team but signs should not be ignored. Ignorance may be bliss in the present but it often causes a lot of pain in the future. The Predators seem to have recognized some of these issues, as they’ve moved around their offense. Most notably the center group. Calle Jarnkrok has moved up from the fourth line to the second (where he belongs) and Nick Bonino has moved to the third line. Also, Colton Sissons will move to the third line wing spot, after playing in the center spot.
While moving around the offense might solve part of the problem, the big issue was the defense. Most notably the bottom three defencemen, especially the third pair. So, now that we’ve seen Yannick Weber, Alexei Emelin, and Matt Irwin together, what’s the verdict on their performances?
Not Good, Obviously
I mean what did you expect? Only four or five players had positive possession scores on Thursday, but boy were these defencemen bad.
The first thing that catches my eye is Emelin’s Fenwick score. 91.77% of the shot attempts were headed towards the Nashville Predators net when Emelin stepped on the ice. And worse yet, zero shots hit the Bruins net while Emelin was playing. Those are borderline unforgivable numbers, although I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. What’s worse is Yannick Weber and Emelin were preyed upon by Pastrnak and Marchand for over five minutes last night. Matt Irwin was overexposed at 17 minutes and 52 seconds. Way too much for a borderline third pairing defenseman. Playing with Roman Josi inflated his possession scores quite a bit. Irwin would’ve been pounded into the ground had he played anywhere else.
Why Should Girard Get A Spot In The Line-Up?
Why not? Anything’s better than what we saw on Thursday night. The Pittsburgh Penguins are reeling after Thursday and their bottom six is so heavily under talented. So why not play Sam Girard on the third line and try to shelter him? Let him play against some seriously weak talent, although be careful because Crosby or Malkin can be out there in an instant. You never know what you have in a player until he actually plays in a regular season game. Now is as good a time as any. It can’t be worse than Thursday, eh?
So Who Sits?
Well judging off the numbers makes the choice fairly easy, but there are multiple factors that go into it. Irwin by far had the best stats of the three previously mentioned defencemen, but let’s remember that Roman Josi was carrying him around like an anchor. Yannick Weber is a non-factor in most games and Alexei Emelin looked like a lost puppy.
I personally think Emelin should stay because of his past accomplishments. He’s a solid defensive defender who might look better as time goes on. I’ll give Emelin at least a month before I make a serious decision on him, though he doesn’t fit the Predators’ defense M.O.
Matt Irwin has posted decent possession stats throughout the years, and there’s a reason Laviolette put him with Josi. He’s probably the best skating defenseman on the Nashville Predators roster, top four not included. He deserves a spot on the third pairing, even when Ryan Ellis returns.
So.. the odd man out, Yannick Weber. Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks fans know him as the tank commander for a reason. He’s not good, he’s never been good. It felt like the Nashville Predators signed him to wean Predators fans off of their Weber addiction. Well, the addiction is over and Weber shouldn’t be on this roster anymore. Anthony Bitetto deserves the spot more, and that’s saying something!
When To Play Girard
Once again, shelter the kid! Third line minutes and power play time. Not much power play time, but a minute or so. Give Girard a taste of the NHL and all it has to offer, but be careful. A surprise Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin appearance could leave him shell-shocked.
I think Girard will do a good job in his first game. He’s clearly not ready for a full season in the NHL but he’s ready for a few games. Why not start tonight?