Watching the Nashville Predators this season has been frustrating to fans. Giving up multiple goal leads only to lose and needing a rally to win is not ideal. But, who is to blame?
The game on Tuesday was not easy to watch. Two power play goals provided a lead for the Nashville Predators, and playing on home ice should have helped. However, the Calgary Flame essentially dominated possession throughout the game. In 47 minutes and 51 seconds of teams playing at even strength, the Predators reached a CorsiFor rating of 41.11. That is their second lowest of the season.
Why? Why is the team under-achieving? Sure, they may not be the best team in the league, but shouldn’t they be better than this?
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Instead of writing some prose on the topic, let me just provide some statics.
Of the 23 goals scored by the Predators this season, 10 have come during 5v5 play. For comparison sake, the Anaheim Ducks scored 16 goals in 5v5, with 24 total goals this season.
The Predators rank 28th in even strength goals, but fourth in power play goals. Furthermore, sixth in power play percentage and fifth on the penalty kill.
The only forwards who has started in the offensive zone more than 50% of the time are Cody McLeod (65%), Forsberg (64.2%), Ryan Johansen (60.8%), and Arvidsson (60.2). Five defensemen are also above 50% in offensive zone starts.
Pekka Rinne ranks sixth in goals against average, and fourth in quality starts.
The true issue is asset management. Peter Laviolette is not putting players in positions to experience success. Granted, Nick Bonino and Ryan Ellis are on the injured list. That does not help; however, the players that are performing are the ones on the front lines. If Ryan Johansen would notch a goal, things would improve on that top line as well.
So far, the second line is not working as well as we hoped. Of course, they found lightning in a bottle in their first game together, yet have not scored in the last two games. The trio only has 14 total shots in those games. Maybe they need more time, but they certainly need to be better. Or, there needs to be a change in the line.
Why is Girard not playing? The Predators won two of the three games he played, and lost in overtime in the third game. And, those games included at home against the Dallas Stars, and on the road in Chicago. Read that again….ON THE ROAD in CHICAGO! It is obvious to me the team trusts Girard. Why not play him? All eyes are on Poile for that decision.
The top three defensemen are averaging over 25 minutes of ice-time each game. If you stretch it out over an entire season, they are playing two games more in minutes this year than last.
Girard was averaging 19 minutes and Emelin just over 18 minutes. Is it too much too soon? Will the Ottawa Senators and St. Louis Blues have only one player each averaging such minutes. No, I have reservations about Yannick Weber and Matt Irwin as well. They have not played well. However, if they do not get minutes, P.K. Subban and crew will be ran into the ground before Christmas.
It is still early, but there are questions starting to rise about player management. I trust David Poile and Laviolette to make the needed adjustments. It is just frustrating to watch right now.