Nashville Predators: Five Thoughts For Friday, October 13th

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Nashville Predators got off to a rocky start in the home-opener, but at least they got the win. Is that indicative of their performances going forward?

I was lucky enough to see the Nashville Predators win their home-opener on Tuesday night. Although there were as many lows as there were highs. Inconsistent performances won’t be acceptable as the season goes on, especially as the playoffs inch closer. I’m willing to cut them slack, as it was the third game of the season and they did battle back. But the scary part is this team looks so much like last year’s team, which might sound good considering they made the Stanley Cup Final. But let’s remember that they fell backwards into the playoffs in the first place, maybe this year they won’t be so lucky. Only time will tell but a slow start doesn’t inspire confidence.

5. Josi injury, and the rise of Sam Girard

I was saddened to find out that Roman Josi wouldn’t be playing in the home-opener, albeit for a selfish reason. I wanted to see him with my very own eyes, but I guess that’ll have to wait. Although the Nashville Predators have said that Josi is suffering from a “lower-body” injury, that doesn’t really specify. It could be a knee issue, hip issue, or even just general soreness. He’s only listed as day-to-day so you have to imagine that the injury isn’t too bad. But at least it led to one positive.

Samuel Girard played like a man on fire on Tuesday and Thursday night. He played with passion and confidence, though he was far from perfect. I figured he’d be more of a Josi-lite player but his skating style reminds me a lot of Subban. Girard clearly needs to put on a little more muscle as some forwards had their way with him in front of his net and around the boards. Also, Girard needs to start making the simple plays more often, there were a few times where he elected to hold onto the puck rather than to shoot it that stung the Predators. The good news is that Girard makes the first pass extremely well and can get the puck to the net when he does decide to shoot. He might need to cut down on the spin-o-ramas but I’m glad he feels comfortable trying them.

Pairing Girard and Mattias Ekholm is a smart move. The young gun has an elite shot suppressor to support him. A nice feeling for sure. Girard is making a big case for more than nine games.

4. James Neal is off to a hot start, was it smart to keep Jarnkrok?

It’s the question Nashville Predators fans have been debating for months now. Personally, I think that the Predators took the smart option. I’d much rather have a good middle six center who can play all situations and who’s signed for five years at two million per over an aging power forward who would walk after this season was finished. I understand it’s easy to want the “sexier” option but James Neal wasn’t going to produce like this for the Predators. Neal is currently shooting at 45%. He’s riding a high PDO and I would expect it to come crashing down any moment.

We need to put some respect on Calle Jarnkrok‘s name. He’s an excellent possession driver who mutes other teams top forwards. This is simply a case of Jarnkrok starting cold while everything James Neal throws at the net goes in. Jarnkrok matched the Seguin line for most of Thursday night’s game and kept them off the scoresheet. James Neal wouldn’t be able to do that.

3. Shipachyov to the Nashville Predators?

Another week, another trade rumor involving a center heading to Nashville… This one is curious as Vadim Shipachyov is currently sitting in the AHL when he is clearly an NHL talent. Rumors spread like wildfire that Shipachyov would head back to the KHL if he wasn’t traded or given ice time, although both his agent and the Vegas general manager have denied such reports. I really don’t understand why Vegas will not play him, unless there are some underlying issues like attitude or injury, If that’s the case, the Nashville Predators could acquire him for a somewhat cheap price.

Shipachyov will make 3.475 million this year and 4.500 next year before his contract ends. A low risk, high reward opportunity considering the Nashville Predators have six million in cap space and don’t have any key players to sign this off-season. Vegas is currently in the rebuilding stages of its franchise, although I guess you could say they’re just building at this point. They’re interested in picks and might be willing to part ways with him for a second or possibly less. I’m sure they’d rather have the second round pick than 4.5 million dollars doing nothing in the AHL. Only time will tell though.

2. Mark Streit on waivers

The 39 year old defenseman is now on waivers and I think he’d be a fine pick up for the Nashville Predators. I will say this though, if Mark Streit even sniffs top four minutes then he’ll be way out of his depth. But a nice spot in the third pair platoon with Anthony Bitetto and Matt Irwin would be a good mix. Plus Streit is still a useful passer on the power play.

Streit has posted a 60.42% Corsi and a 59.52% Fenwick so far this season, pretty good for a defender his age. Plus he’s only signed for one year at 700,000 dollars. A good term and total if he ends up not working out. Where’s the downside?

1.  Kamenev and Gaudreau off to a hot start

Both Vladislav Kamenev and Frederick Gaudreau have three points in two games. Each has one goal and two assists, although Gaudreau is shooting at 100% so that’ll probably fall. But both are too good for the AHL and are performing like it.

Gaudreau could easily platoon with Salomaki and Watson as fourth-line wingers. He’d be much better than Cody McLeod, that’s for certain. The future isn’t so clear for Kamenev though. He’s a pure center who projects to be a second line forward. But Ryan Johansen, Nick Bonino, and Calle Jarnkrok have the top center spots locked up. Though there is a bit of a vacuum on the fourth line as Colton Sissons has either been injured on the third line in a wing position.

Next: Tale of the Tape from NSH vs PHI

That fourth line spot could be a great place for Kamenev to see some real minutes, but there would be growing pains. Getting the pain over early in the season is way easier than later in the season. But that’s just my opinion.