The Kyle Turris acquisition has done wonders for depth scoring. The Nashville Predators are better for it, but he’s not the lone reason.
As Bane said in the Dark Knight Rises, “victory has defeated you”. It’s a contradictory statement in nature but it makes sense when put under the microscope. We may have forgotten over the past month or so, but the Nashville Predators were an incredibly average team who excelled at suppressing chances but failed to generate any of their own.
The entire line-up was snakebitten besides the JoFA line. Different schools of thought had different ideas, I subscribed to the idea that Kevin Fiala, Craig Smith, Calle Jarnkrok, and more were just unlucky, and that the chances would eventually pay off. Especially for Fiala who was single handly driving the second line’s possession. Well now the luck has swung and the depth is riding big numbers.
Smith is currently shooting a 15.38% conversion rate in his last 13 games (since Turris was acquired). The national average is 9.02% and Smith has never really shot over 12% so I don’t expect that to stay. While, at the same time, Fiala is only shooting at a 6.9% (nice). Which leads me to believe that we haven’t even seen the best of him. The other depth scorer who’s punching above his weight would be Nick Bonino, who’s shooting at about 28.57%, which is herculean. The Nashville Predators are a great team, but they’re also getting a bit lucky.
5. Johansen injury couldn’t come at a better time
Ryan Johansen was injured during the game against the Ducks. He was listed day to day on Monday and has not played since. Pictures have surfaced of him and he’s not walking on crutches or using a sling, which is promising. Although it kind of hints that it may be a neck or head injury, possibly a concussion.
While this injury stinks, it couldn’t come at a better time. The Nashville Predators have a break until Wednesday when their schedule resumes. This will give Johansen plenty of time to rest, relax, and hopefully recover. He’s the driving force behind the offense and his absence will be felt sooner rather than later.
4. Let Saros unpack his bags
Juuse Saros is coming off of a statement game in Dallas where he put up almost perfect numbers despite no real help from the defense. We can talk about how he’s ready or not till we’re all blue in the face, but one thing is for certain. Let the poor kid stay in one place. Consistent minutes in the AHL would give the kid enough confidence to split starts with Pekka Rinne next season. While 15-20 games in the NHL this season would give Saros ample opportunity to test his mettle against the best players in the world. Keeping Saros in the NHL might also be the right move so that Rinne could get a few games off during the latter part of the season.
Saros may have been an absolute wall over the past two or three games, but Rinne is still “the guy”. He’ll most certainly start in the playoffs, and those extra games can be grueling, especially on a 35-year-old body. Let Saros ease a bit of the pain and give Rinne more breaks.
3. Ben Lovejoy is the first current NHL player to pledge his brain to CTE studies
CTE and concussions are the talk of the entire sports community, especially in the NFL. Contact sports breed injuries, with some experts going even further. I’ve heard the phrase, “hockey isn’t a contact sport, it’s a collision sport”, which makes a ton of sense. The lockout in 2005 sped up the game so much that hits resemble hitting a train rather than a body check.
Ben Lovejoy recently announced he will donate his brain to science, stating that he’s a believer in “helping the future”. This is a courageous move that should be lauded and cheered for. Selfless acts like Lovejoy’s will help us advance as a society, and will help us make sports safer, especially for youth hockey. After all, won’t someone think of the children?
2. No longer hockey-less in Seattle
Get ready to welcome back the Seattle Metropolitans! The 1917 Stanley Cup winners are coming back the pacific northwest likely in time for another lockout. The Seattle city council has recently approved a 600 million dollar renovation of KeyArena, and Gary Bettman has allowed Seattle to apply for expansion.The cost will be 650 million dollars, up from Vegas’ 500 million. If my math is right, and it rarely is, this means that an arena and team will immediately cost over a billion dollars.
I have no idea what the team will be called, as the Metropolitans are probably not a viable name anymore. My personal hope is they go with Sasquatch. I don’t know how the expansion draft process will go. But I think their inaugural season will be after the lockout in 2021. I think the additional franchise will likely push the NHL into eight divisions of four teams, with four divisions in each conference. That’s just my opinion though, we’ll see how it goes.
As an aspiring hockey writer, I’m extremely happy to see another franchise pop up as it’ll mean more jobs in writing, PR, scouting, and other upper management roles. Plus, more games to watch.
1. Welcome to the Thunderdome
The Central Division is back and better than ever. While the old guard of Chicago may be on it’s way out, the newcomers are looking even better than ever. The Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, and Nashville Predators will probably collide in the playoffs a few times over the next few years in what should be high scoring series.
The Predators may have a few equals in the West, but there is no one they should openly fear. The only team to fear lies in the East and they are the Lightning. My prediction of a Predators vs Lightning Stanley Cup Final is looking more and more likely each day. But before the Predators get back to the top of the mountain, they’ll have to go through the Central first.