Nashville Predators: Analyzing a Night of Pure Offense

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 10: Filip Forsberg
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 10: Filip Forsberg /

Last night, the Nashville Predators recorded their first win of the season. Allowing five unanswered goals by Philadelphia, well, it was all part of the plan, right?

From an analytics perspective, an eleven goal game is a blast. Yes, it requires slogging through tons of information to find any of real value, but it’s a blast all the same. In the Nashville Predators’ home opener, the team treated Smashville to such a game. The Flyers turned an early three to nothing deficit into a late five to three lead. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers that produced such a fast-and-loose contest.

Fun For All Ages

One particularly interesting addition to the Predators’ lineup was young defenseman, Samuel Girard. After seriously impressing coaches during the preseason, the 19-year-old was itching to get his first NHL start. Last night, in front of a sold-out crowd containing his family and friends, Girard played a great game. He skated with confidence (three, yes three, spin-o-ramas on the Flyers’ blue line), produced offense, and recorded his first NHL point. He is making a compelling case for his regular placement in the lineup.

On the other end of the spectrum, players of more “advanced” age were impressive as well. Scott Hartnell returned to Nashville for his first regular season game with the Predators since 2007. He may be 35 years old, but he has already scored three goals this season and doesn’t seem interested in slowing down.

Here’s a look at some Nashville Predators, young and old, who impressed me last night:

PlayerEV TOI*PointsShots forShots againstFenwick %
Samuel Girard18:131131056.52
Scott Hartnell12:39215671.43
Kevin Fiala10:2825550.00
P.K. Subban18:433221264.71
Pontus Aberg12:25216576.19

*Time on ice at even strength

Netminders’ Nightmare

The goaltending last night was far from stellar. Both Pekka Rinne and Brian Elliott had poor nights, which is far from surprising given the final scoreline. Interestingly, Rinne had a perfect first period, stopping all nine shots from the Flyers. The second period revealed his worrying inconsistency, as he failed to save three out of 15 shots. The third was even worse; the Flyers scored two goals from six shots.

More from Predators News

Elliott had an abysmal 1st period, allowing three goals on nine shots. In the second, he stopped all eight shots to allow his team a solid platform to tie it up. The third period was a melee for both teams, as he allowed three goals on 14 shots. Although Nashville had a huge power play advantage on the final two goals, Elliott really should have saved both.

All in all, far from a clutch goaltending night:

PlayerShots FacedShots SavedSV%*
Pekka Rinne30250.833
Brian Elliott31250.806

*save percentage

Final Thoughts

All in all, Nashville Predators fans should be relieved, not thrilled, about last night’s game. During the first intermission, I was genuinely thinking the Predators would win by six or seven goals. Demons from last season re-emerged as the home team let in three goals in under five minutes, giving up their hard-earned lead. The team looked utterly deflated for about 30 minutes of this game, and is lucky that last-minute discipline issues cost Philadelphia their third win of the season.

The good news is that the Predators’ forwards finally looked like themselves. There was less hesitation and more lethality than I’ve seen so far this season. Players were forechecking, exiting the zone quickly with clean passes, and heading to net often. If the Nashville Predators can work to remain consistent defensively for 60 minutes, this team is in good shape.

Next: Sobering Thoughts After A Crazy Predators Game

Finally, in terms of fun-per-dollar, last night’s game was among the best. Welcome back, Smashville.