Best Article About The Predators: “The Numbers: The Best Franchise In Sports” by Peter Keating, ESPN The Magazine
Peter Keating’s article about the Nashville Predators in ESPN The Magazine got quite a bit of attention. The Predators ran with the hype from the article and are now using it in marketing. Who can blame them? ESPN rarely talks about hockey, so if they say something good about you, go ahead and trumpet it to the heavens.
Not to pick at nits, but ESPN didn’t actually name Nashville the best franchise in sports. One writer said that if they still did The Ultimate Standings, the Predators would probably rank first due to their on-ice & off-ice performance. They didn’t actually do the project. We don’t know how Nashville rates compared to other sports franchises in 2017. I’d rate them ahead of the other franchises I root for…but since they’re the Cincinnati Reds & Bengals that isn’t saying much.
It’s still a fun article to read and makes you feel good about the franchise you support. Hopefully the behind the scenes people will use it as motivation to step their game up even more.
Best Former Predator: James Neal
The Nashville Predators’ strategy heading into the expansion draft faced a ton of criticism. We all had our theories. Some wanted the 4-4 model with James Neal protected along with the JoFA line. Some wanted the 7-3 model that would have left Mattias Ekholm or Ryan Ellis exposed. And some were happy with the way Nashville went about it.
The argument for Calle Jarnkrok over Neal was largely based off of two things:
Contract: Neal’s contract expires at the end of the 2017-18 season. Jarnkrok’s is a smaller cap hit & lasts through 2021-22.
Potential: Jarnkrok could be the second center the Predators are looking for. He’s 26 & Neal is 30. When Neal is on the downswing, Jarnkrok will be in his prime.
We won’t know whether Nashville made the right choice for a few years. Based on one month of results, the choice was wrong. In nine games as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights, Neal has scored seven goals, including three game-winners. His 31.8 shot percentage is better than anybody on the Predators. His Corsi & Fenwick percentages are in the 49s, so maybe he’s not totally perfect. Either way, he is already a folk hero among Las Vegas hockey fans.
Jarnkrok had an October to forget. He had a grand total of one goal & one assist. His Corsi & Fenwick percentages were in the 44s. He had a couple different line combinations, none of which got anything going offensively. If he had done anything productive it would have lessened the blow of Neal leading Vegas to great things early in their existence. But he didn’t.
If Vegas defies the odds and has a successful first season, James Neal will be a large part of it. Nashville fans will be bitter, and it’s not like you can blame them. Remember the Nashville Predators Expansion Draft? Back then, nobody cared whether the new city got a competitive team or not. They got the scraps nobody else in the league wanted. Now the NHL is smarter. Nashville pays the price coming and going.
Best Predators Game: October 10 vs. Philadelphia Flyers (6-5 win)
There have been better performances by the Nashville Predators, but there hasn’t been a more entertaining game this season. After two road losses, the Predators finally got to make their home debut. The Western Conference Champion banner was raised. Everybody was excited for hockey!
Nashville was ahead 3-0 after the first 25 minutes of play. The Flyers came back with five straight goals to send us all heading towards the ledge. Fortunately, Nashville came back and scored three goals, the final two within 90 seconds of regulation expiring.
The game had everything that you could ask for. Although maybe a little more stress than we would like.