Nashville Predators: Five Thoughts For Friday, October 27th

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

Inconsistent performances plague the Nashville Predators through ten games. Strategy and roster decisions leave me questioning Peter Laviolette.

Peter Laviolette does have a cup to his name and deserves respect, but he’s not above criticism. His strategies are predictable or rely too heavily on certain plays. His powerplay is weak, although covered up by the tear that Filip Forsberg is on. Laviolette creates a system and then forces his players to adapt to it, rather than adapting a system to his players. There are a few constants wherever Laviolette has success, especially in the playoffs. He’s had a hot goalie like Pekka Rinne, Cam Ward, or Michael Leighton. Two or three hot forwards like Rod Brind’Amor, Cory Stillman, and Eric Staal in Carolina, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Daniel Briere in Philadelphia, or Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, and Filip Forsberg in Nashville.

Laviolette does well at home because he plays hard match-ups, but his line-up can be picked apart on the road. He especially has issues with in-game corrections or fixes. Like Bruce Boudreau, he elects to stick to the system rather than adjust. Good coaches can cover up a lot of mistakes. For instance, the best member of the Vegas Golden Knights doesn’t actually touch the ice. Gerard Gallant has adapted his style around the shallow talent he has. Electing to sacrifice offensive chances to minimize defensive lapses. Laviolette shouldn’t copy Gallant, but he should look at how Gallant adapted from Florida to Vegas. Otherwise, this might be a long year for a banged up Nashville Predators squad.

5. Vadim Shipachyov looking around

Trade rumors have dominated the season thus far, whether it’s Alex Galchenyuk or Matt Duchene. But there’s a new rumor in town and it’s starting to heat up. Vegas signed Vadim Shipachyov over the summer to a two-year deal at the price of 4.5 million. Shipachyov has only played three games this season and has been sent down to the AHL, a place he’d rather not be. Vegas has given his agent permission to ask around the league for a trade. He’s been linked to several teams including the Montreal Canadiens. Although general manager Marc Bergevin has come out and denied such reports.

Shipachyov definitely looked like a second line center in his short time in Vegas, and he’s cheap enough that the Predators should at least kick the tires. Vegas wants picks and would probably ask for a second round and later pick for the Russian. This seems like a low risk, medium reward scenario.

4. Emil Pettersson is tearing up the AHL

The 23-year-old Swede is currently lighting up the scoresheet with two goals and six assists for eight points in five games. The center has found his footing on North American ice after a forgettable pre-season. He’s a bit older and more experienced than Vladislav Kamenev (four points in five games) and looks like he should be next in line for the NHL. He’s a traditional center but could play wing if necessary. Watch for Pettersson to get called up if another injury strikes the Nashville Predators. He could be an extremely complimentary piece on the third or fourth line very soon.

3. Over time

Two word that Predators’ fans loathe. Fans have come to fear three on three and the shootout, and almost rightfully so. The Nashville Predators’ defensive zone system in overtime is a zone defense. Something not extremely common in the NHL today, and most opposing teams take advantage. The shootout isn’t much better as the Predators lost four out of six shootouts in 2016-17. And this year they’re not exactly off to a great start. This is especially troubling news as over time might be changing in the NHL.

Rumors are swirling that three on three overtime will be stretched to ten minutes rather than five. If this is the case, the Nashville Predators better rethink their strategy. Man to man defense would fit the Predators much nicer as their defensive corp is one of the quickest in the NHL. A few tweaks and the Predators could be a fearsome three on three team.

2. Top 5 power play, but less than impressive 5v5

It’s a good thing Filip Forsberg is putting so many shots in the net on the power play, because the Nashville Predators are extremely average otherwise. The Predators have scored 10 goals on five on five in nine games. So they’re averaging just over a goal for, that’s absolutely terrible, even worse considering they’ve given up 14 against. Not only are the Predators being outscored, but they’re being outchanced 171 to 164. It’s not all bad news though, there are some silver linings to the five on five play. The Nashville Predators as a team are driving possession and own a Corsi of 52.49% and a Fenwick of 53.72%. Good enough for 7th and 6th in the NHL, respectively. They’re also only shooting at 5.29% as a team. Expect that to jump up to the average 9.2% sooner rather than later.

The good news for the Nashville Predators is their power play is performing at an elite level. The Predators have scored nine goals in ten games, an incredible pace for any team. It actually ranks 4th in the NHL. The Predators are also 12th in the NHL in high danger scoring chances for with 24, and 6th in the NHL with a conversion rate of 26.3. The national average is 17.6, so it’s a little dishonest to say the Predators have a bad powerplay.  I’m curious to see what happens first, the power play coming back down to earth or the shooting percentage rising at five on five.

1. Girard and Josi?

Samuel Girard and Roman Josi have been practice partners for a little while now. It was posted once again by Nashville Predators’ beat writers and I got very excited at the thought of Yannick Weber sitting in the pressbox. The Josi-Girard pairing most likely won’t happen but boy would it be exciting. Laviolette would need to shelter them but with the reconnection between Ekholm and Subban, Laviolette could do it.

The line would be an offensive revelation and would need to be paired with a defensively responsible forward trio, like Calle Jarnkrok and the second line. This would also force the third pair into more than 12 minutes a night, which could be tough for the Predators. There are a lot of personnel questions left to answer. I personally hope that Girard and Josi get a chance to shine, even if it’s only for a period.

Next: Who's Impressing in Milwaukee?

The Nashville Predators have a big weekend ahead of them including a game against their divisional rival, the Chicago Blackhawks, tonight. This weekend would be as good as any for the depth scoring to ignite.