Happy American Thanksgiving to everyone on each side of the border. The Nashville Predators have given us plenty to be thankful for so far.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for giving thanks and recollection. A time to reflect and appreciate all that we have in life. No matter where you are in life today, at least the Nashville Predators have given us something to appreciate.
The worries that plagued this team are all but quelled. Many questioned the center depth, well now the Nashville Predators boast a top-five center corp. Many questioned the wingers and their ability to score, now the depth is filling up the scoresheet. The Predators are starting to realize their potential. Let’s hope they can keep this going all the way until the end of the cup finals.
5. Oil looking for a trade
The Oilers are off to an incredibly slow start, even Connor McDavid hasn’t been enough to put them over. The worst part for them is that winning will be even harder after this year. A 12 million dollar deal kicks in for McDavid and pieces will need to be sacrificed. Last season it was Jordan Eberle and this year it looks like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the sacrificial lamb. Boy do those contracts to Kris Russel and Milan Lucic look terrible right now, as they take up 10 million dollars for the next four years.
But enough of the criticism of Peter Chiarelli, let’s talk trades. Word on the block is that the Oilers are looking for another defenseman, one of their key targets is Ryan Murray. Murray is a 24-year-old defenseman for the Columbus Blue Jackets and relatively solid. He’s played mostly second and third pair minutes and has solid possession numbers to boot. The good news is that he’s on a contract worth 2.825 million dollars, the bad news it ends after this season. He’ll have to be re-signed and will probably ask for around four million. A tough number for the Oilers.
Many speculate that the Oilers will attempt a one for one trade, Nugent-Hopkins for Murray, straight up. Not a good move in my opinion, but the Oilers aren’t known for making good moves.
4. What’s up with Fabbro?
Dante Fabbro was the first round pick for the Nashville Predators in 2016. He came from the BCHL where he posted excellent numbers, from there he went to Boston University of the NCAA. In his first season, Fabbro posted 18 points in 36 games and is on pace for those same numbers. Fabbro currently has 7 points in 14 games this year.
I’ll be honest, I don’t trust BCHL or AJHL defensemen. I didn’t trust Cale Makar this year and I still don’t fully trust Fabbro. Hopefully, he proves me wrong though, as Fabbro looks to step into the long line of elite Nashville Predators defensemen.
3. A game is 60 minutes, not 40, and certainly not 20
We haven’t really seen the Nashville Predators play a complete game. The team has a propensity to give up in a way. When they’re losing big, instead of righting the ship, the players play more physical and look to hurt. But when they’re up “big”, like two or three goals, they go directly into prevent defense.
Playing prevent defense is a quick way to lose a lead, with the Wild game being a clear example. Good teams can create a lead, but a great team can keep it. Let’s hope the Predators can figure out how to prevent high danger chances. An old coach of mine had a few sayings that apply, one was “you can never win by too many goals” and “they can’t score if the puck never leaves their zone”. The Predators should focus on playing every minute like it’s 0-0, otherwise they might psyche themselves out.
2. Will Stamkos and Kucherov ever stop scoring?
No, probably not. They’re extremely good and their stats aren’t too outrageous in any way. May the Hockey Gods have mercy on our souls when they’re in town.
1. Zone exits are hurting the Predators
Zone exits are hotly debated subject around the NHL, mostly because where value is placed. Is a carry out worth more than a chip out? In my mind, yes. P.K. Subban is probably the second best defenseman at zone exits where possession is maintained. He gets crucified because he’ll turn the puck over in the neutral zone maybe once per game. But the fact remains that he rarely gives the puck up in his own zone.
Players like Matt Irwin, Anthony Bitetto, and most notably Alexei Emelin have a tough time getting the puck out of their zone. They more often than chip the puck out and sacrifice possession for a zone clear and possibly a line change. But is this always the right move? Is it worth it to hold on to the puck and risk more time in your own zone?
Possibly, I’m continuing to take my own stats in this manner, and I’ll continue to update my opinion on my findings. I do think that the wingers should be adjusted in the meantime. With players like Subban or Ekholm on the ice, wingers should hang lower around the hash marks to act as an outlet for a pass. Whereas with Weber or Irwin on the ice, maybe wingers should try to cheat to take advantage of these chip outs?
Either way, the Nashville Predators are doing excellent at the moment, but there’s always room for improvement. A more concise zone exit strategy may be a key to holding onto late leads.