Five games is a small sample size but this season’s team is reminiscent of last year. The analytics go on to show how average the Nashville Predators are.
A tough start at two-two-one has the Nashville Predators, their organization, and their fans questioning this team. A long-term injury to Ryan Ellis set back a brilliant off-season by David Poile as the defense started off shorthanded. The first couple of games were extremely painful as some realizations were made.
Alexei Emelin is not made for top four minutes anymore, although Samuel Girard has stepped up nicely. The defense has arguably been the weakest link, something the organization and fans aren’t used to. The defense so far has relied heavily upon P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm, who have played over 24 minutes per night on average. Things have been in disarray over the first five games for the Nashville Predators. The defense is top heavy, the offense is still finding chemistry outside of the JoFA line, and the goaltending is inconsistent at best.
The one thing that the Nashville Predators can hang their hat on, is that they’re an average team when they’re not playing up to their potential.
Five on Five
Five on five situations are obviously the most important in the NHL. Equal strength time makes up the majority of the game, especially going forward seeing as referees are starting to call fewer penalties. So let’s look at how the Nashville Predators stack up.
A quick look at the stats says a great deal about the Predators. The Predators have continually gotten better as games go on and even as the season has gone on. The most dominant showing was on Saturday night against the Blackhawks, even though they lost in overtime. The Predators have above average possession scores, although expectations were that the Predators would be a top-five team. Not a middling team who’s barely above the average.
The scariest thing about the chart is the goals for. Seven even-strength goals in five games is absolutely terrible. Almost inexcusable in my opinion, granted the sample size is microscopic. If this trend continues, Peter Laviolette may be on the chopping block, although it won’t be due to an overreaction. The goals against doesn’t scare me as much, the Predators are an offensive team, and offensive teams give up goals.
The bottom six needs to contribute more on the scoresheet, it’s pretty plain and simple.
All situations can be a tough case study to look at, but it’s valuable to see how the penalty kill and power play affect teams.
Interestingly enough, the Nashville Predators’ Corsi and Fenwick both dropped, but both only less than a point. The Fenwick tells the big story in my opinion because it means the Predators are dominating the power play by putting shots on net. And they are, the Predators have scored seven power-play goals, the same as their five on five total. While it’s nice to see the powerplay running, they’re currently producing at 29.71% while the18.61 average is. When that drops, and it will, the five on five scoring better pick up or it’s going to be a long season.
What Needs To Change
Well, the offense needs to score in five on five situations. Kevin Fiala, Craig Smith, and Calle Jarnkrok have noticeably been snake bitten so far into the season. As their luck changes, so will the Nashville Predators’. The defense is still figuring itself out but the defensive crutches masquerading as Subban and Ekholm won’t be able to keep the corp up forever. Personally, I hope Roman Josi and Samuel Girard find some chemistry together because that’ll be a lethal pair in the offensive zone. The goaltending needs to find some semblance of consistency, hopefully Saros can provide that when his playing time picks up.
While the Nashville Predators are above average so far, it’s clearly not enough. If the Predators want to make the playoffs, let alone make a deep run, they need to be better. Let’s hope that these stats look much better after another five games.