The Nashville Predators have exposed some concerning weaknesses, even through a dominant month. Fortunately, they seem to be moving in the right direction.
In this week’s podcast episode, we certainly have plenty of games to discuss. The Nashville Predators have played every other night since November 14th, and played well. In addition to breaking down the results against Chicago, Vancouver, and Anaheim, we get into the Ryan Johansen injury and some of the new lines we’ll see as a result. To cap it all off, we take a look forward at the visit to Dallas and Nashville’s first ever game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Five on five issues
The premier concern for the Predators so far has been the lack of production at even strength. While it’s great to have a lethal power play, it needs to be framed by solid five-on-five play. The source of the issue has been shot selection. At even strength, the Predators have struggled to pressure high-danger areas.
In recent games, the team has at least been trending upwards in that category. We do touch on the Boston game, in which Nashville scored all five goals at even strength from high-danger areas. That’s an enormous relief for a team that has struggled in that exact category this year.
Ryan Johansen is officially listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury. During the Anaheim game, he collided with Kevin Fiala behind the play and did not return. As far as I’m concerned, the brevity of the absence is great news. The incident looked very awkward, and he was clearly hurting as he left the ice.
In the meantime, the Predators’ forward lines will look a little different. They’ve chosen to keep Fiala-Turris-Smith intact, which is a good decision in my book. Arvidsson and Forsberg are separated, but production should stay relatively consistent as a whole. As long as the absence is truly limited to this week, the Nashville Predators should be in fine shape to handle it.
Dallas and Vegas each present very unique challenges for the Nashville Predators. The Stars currently lead the NHL in high-danger chances for percentage. More than any other team, they are creating low-slot scoring chances and suppressing those from opponents. Since it’s an area in which Nashville has specifically struggled, it will be fascinating to see how the Predators overcome the challenge.
Vegas presents a huge question mark, essentially. By most metrics, the Golden Knights are exactly average. With the return of James Neal adding an interesting emotional element to the contest, you really won’t want to miss this game.
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As always, we’d love to hear your suggestions for future topics and general insight. Feel free to contact Corey Francis, George Matarangas, or myself on Twitter to let us know what you’d like to hear. Find the podcast here or on Itunes!
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