So those last two Nashville Predators games weren’t very good eh? Especially the defense. The bottom three have been especially bad and a change is needed.
I’ve been beating this drum since the opening night line-up was announced, but Sam Girard needs to see NHL minutes. He impressed quite a bit in pre-season, and I think he’ll impress in certain minutes in the regular season. Although not all minutes. I actually kind of agree with keeping Girard out of the Penguins game, but the Bruins game would’ve been a prime opportunity for Girard to start.
After two games and two very disappointing performances, a change is needed. That change should be Girard headlining the third pair for the Nashville Predators. But who does he replace?
This a tricky question indeed. No defender has played well, but three must play while two others sit. P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, and Mattias Ekholm are most certainly not sitting so who does that leave? That leaves Anthony Bitetto, Yannick Weber, Alexei Emelin, or first line superstar Matt Irwin. Can you sense the sarcasm? Because it’s there…
I think tank commander Yannick Weber should take a seat in the press box and not play on Tuesday. Alexei Emelin could play well on the third line but he may get the call to play second line minutes. Which is a good thing considering that Matt Irwin should never play top four minutes. Ever. Although Irwin is a respectable third line defenseman and deserves a third line spot once Ellis returns. In my mind here’s the line-up.
So in the end, Yannick Weber and Matt Irwin take a seat for this game. Although they’ll both be back in the line-up soon enough.
In my previous segment, I stated that Girard will probably start alongside Anthony Bitetto. Bitetto had a decent game against the Penguins as he posted a 48.15% Corsi while playing third line minutes. I think his possession numbers could rise against weaker competition, especially with a better linemate.
I’ve heard thoughts that Girard could maybe spend time with Roman Josi, but this would be a huge mistake. The Nashville Predators rely on Josi to play long minutes while contributing offensively, and it would be difficult to do so while guiding a rookie. Although I imagine it’s easier to guide a rookie than drag around a Matt Irwin sized anchor. Nevertheless, Girard should get extremely sheltered third line minutes on Tuesday. I’m not ruling out first line minutes in the future, but just not against the Flyers.
Girard and Bitetto could be a fearsome pairing if they’re heavily sheltered. Which they will be due to the fact they have home ice. For those who don’t know, home teams have the last change so Peter Laviolette can switch out Girard if an unfavorable match-up presents itself. My theory about why Girard didn’t play on Saturday is that Laviolette was worried the Penguins would use home ice advantage to mismatch Girard against Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Unfavorable match-ups won’t be the case on Tuesday, and if they are, it’s on Peter Laviolette rather than Girard.
Otherwise, expect Girard and Bitetto to start in the offensive zone 55 or more percent of the time.
Girard Should Absolutely Play In The Home Opener
Something has to change for the Nashville Predators. I think besides the obvious firing Cody McLeod out of a canon, replacing Yannick Weber or Matt Irwin with Samuel Girard is the best move. He may not look perfect during the entire game, but I think he’ll show flashes of brilliance.
We’re all pretty sure that Girard isn’t the short-term answer, but you never know until you see it with your own eyes. It’s a new week with a new banner, and I’m hoping it means a new Nashville Predators team.