Nashville Predators: Defeated Jets Beset with Sweat and Regret

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 18: Filip Forsberg
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 18: Filip Forsberg /

The Central Division race became more interesting last night, as the Nashville Predators defeated the Winnipeg Jets at Bridgestone Arena.

In comparison to the Nashville Predators, the Winnipeg Jets are essentially a collection of oak trees. But, you know, ones that can pass and shoot the puck. Also, they skate really quickly and well. What I’m trying to say is that the Jets are a very big, very talented hockey team. They impress me with their clean style of play, though. The Jets incorporate their physicality into their game plan, without taking too many unnecessary penalties.

The game itself did not disappoint. The Predators outplayed the Jets in a few different areas. Special teams remain a highlight for this Nashville squad. At all strengths, though the Jets outshot the Predators, the home team had the advantage in high-danger chances. Pekka Rinne, as usual, made timely saves to keep his team in the game.

Special teams

First of all, the Nashville Predators improved massively from the Minnesota game in the discipline column. The home team took only two minor penalties during the entire game, and zero during the dominant second period.

Sure enough though, the Jets did score their lone first-period goal on a power play. Mattias Ekholm tripped Kyle Connor just after five minutes had passed in the first. It’s a double whammy kind of penalty, since Ekholm is among the Predators’ best penalty killers.

Let’s take a look at both teams’ power play statistics from last night, using Goals for (GF), Fenwick For (FF) and High-danger scoring chances created (HDCF). FF is the number of unblocked shot attempts taken by the team on the power play. High-danger chances are defined as those coming from the low slot, right in front of the net.


Nashville certainly dominated in this area. On the power play, they generated twice as many goals, nearly twice as many shot attempts, and 50% more high-danger chances.

Defensive battle

Nashville’s defensive pairings are finally coming into their own. Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm as a pair is simply not fair to opponents. That’s a top-5 offensive defenseman paired with a top-5 defensive defenseman. P.K. Subban and Alexei Emelin started a little slow. Often matched against top lines, Emelin just doesn’t have the speed to compensate for Subban’s occasional misadventure.

Yannick Weber, of course, is out on injured reserve. For the time being, the Predators’ third pairing is Anthony Bitetto and Matt Irwin. Bitetto has played very well, but he did allow two dangerous turnovers last night. When he’s behind the Predators’ net with the puck, he usually tries to make a play. Instead of forcing a pass and allowing a turnover, I’d rather see him keep it simple and clear the puck. Otherwise, these two do everything you can ask from a third pairing.

At even strength, let’s look at the Nashville Predators defense, using Fenwick percentage (FF%) and high-danger chances for percentage (HDCF%):


*time on ice at even strength

For comparison’s sake, it’s interesting to look at the performance of Winnipeg’s pairings as well:


*time on ice at even strength

Although Ben Chiarot and Dustin Byfuglien allowed four high-danger chances, neither player was on the ice for any even-strength Predators’ goal. Josh Morrissey and Jacob Trouba dominated possession during the game, but allowed two even-strength goals as a pair.

Center of attention

When I’m having trouble sleeping, I don’t count sheep. Instead, I count Nashville Predators centers. There are just so many good ones; it’s a fun exercise. Even before the goals started coming, Ryan Johansen‘s passing kept him near to my heart. Now, though, he has begun shooting.

I imagine that my sleepless nights are mirrored by a few NHL goaltenders, who have to worry about some kid in Nashville named Ryan.

Kyle Turris is, apparently, the key to offensive production. The Nashville Predators have scored 27 goals in the past five games, and it’s no coincidence. In Roman Josi’s (paraphrased) words, Turris is always perfectly positioned. Last night, he put away his second goal and third assist in five games, bringing his point total to five as a Predator. With both Craig Smith and Kevin Fiala playing out of their minds, this line is incredibly challenging for opposing teams.

Nick Bonino is finding his groove as well. With Turris in the lineup and his injury (hopefully) in the rear-view mirror, Bonino is free to play his appropriate position as a third-line center. Possession-wise, he left a bit to be desired last night. However, getting the insurance goal all but made up for it in the end.

Their two-way responsibilities make centers among the most important players on the ice. Often, their individual performance can dictate a game’s outcome. Here’s a look at some of the possession numbers by Nashville centers:

R. Johansen13:4361.9066.67
K. Turris13:5147.3760.00
N. Bonino14:5233.3340.00
C. Sissons15:4238.8975.00

*time on ice at even strength

Johansen and Turris both put up monster numbers. Bonino and Sissons struggled in generating shots, but kept things relatively tight defensively.

Looking ahead

In their last eight games, the Nashville Predators have seven wins. They are one of the hottest teams in hockey at the moment and don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. I’m still concerned about the late defensive lapses, but they score so many goals now that it’s rarely an issue.

In the next week, they’ll face Montreal, St. Louis, Carolina, and Chicago. It’s a huge week in terms of central division opponents. Especially with the visit to St. Louis, this Nashville team will have a major chance to prove that they can compete at the top level.

Next: Predators Climb Power Rankings

Buckle up, folks. It’s going to be a wild ride.