Well, that was a tough game to watch, to say the least. But the Nashville Predators played better than Thursday’s game. So let’s talk positives.
Yes I know it’s hard to spot silver linings when the Nashville Predators lose four to nothing, but they’re there. The Predators dominated the second period, beating the Penguins in both Corsi and Fenwick by 20%. The third period was closer than the second, but the Predators still won the possession battle. Even if it was only by two percent. But in the end, to quote the Rock, “it doesn’t matter” who won the possession battle because the Penguins won the final score. And even though you play the game to win, there were some moral victories out there, so let’s feel good for a minute or two.
The Nashville Predators Controlled The Face-Off Circle
No Predator had less than a 50% faceoff win percentage, except for Pontus Aberg and Nick Bonino. Although Aberg only took one faceoff on Saturday. Otherwise, Calle Jarnkrok dominated with 61.11% while Ryan Johansen posted a 55%. While these are good numbers in their own right, let’s remember that they were going up against Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Winning a face-off means that you’re controlling possession right off the bat, and it gives a certain advantage. While it may not have paid off tonight, it will in the future. If the Nashville Predators can have their top two centers winning face-offs at above a 55% rate, that’ll help the team as a whole going forward.
Smith-Bonino-Sissons Looks Like A Great Third Line
I know that Bonino was brought in to be a second line center, but Calle Jarnkrok handled second line minutes well against the Penguins. Bonino looked much more comfortable on the third line, although he’s still recovering from injury. What I mean is that the injury may be healed, but he still is rehabbing and getting into the swing of full speed hockey. He looked better on Saturday night’s game compared to Thursday night’s game. Though the third line didn’t score, they controlled possession well.
|Corsi With Sissons
|Corsi With Smith
|Corsi With Bonino
The chart might be a bit redundant, but it gets the point across. These three were dominant when they were playing together. This new third line combined for a Corsi of 57.67, and I think this trend will continue. I wouldn’t be surprised if this line actually got second line minutes against Philadelphia, but I’m hesitant to want them to. Jarnkrok did a good job of suppressing offense against tougher talent which allowed the third line to focus more on offense. I was very impressed with this line and I hope to see them on Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Although a scoring chance means nothing if you don’t score, at least the Nashville Predators were creating them. The Predators created 25 chances to the Penguins 22, not a huge difference. But it is surprising when the final score is four to nothing. The two teams tied as far as high danger chances go, with eight each. Expect the Nashville Predators to capitalize on at least a few of those in future games. While also not allowing four goals on 22 chances at the same time.
The home opener is Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s set to be a great game between two talented teams. Expect the Nashville Predators to score on more of their chances while also being tighter on defense. Watch for the Bonino line look to dominate a weak Flyers bottom six. And let’s see if the center corp can continue their domination of the face-off circle.
Early strife happens all the time to good teams. I believe this is a simple roadblock on the road back to the Stanley Cup for the Nashville Predators.