The Nashville Predators emerged from a long break with a victory in Vancouver. Every bounce of the puck favored the visitors, who refused to ease up.
The last time these teams squared off, the Vancouver Canucks somewhat embarrassed the Nashville Predators. Repeated odd-man rushes picked Nashville’s defense apart, with young superstar Brock Boeser beating Pekka Rinne twice. Finally, the game ended 5-3 after a failed desperation challenge on the empty-net goal.
How the tables turned.
Typically, I use metrics like five-on-five Corsi, Fenwick, or high-danger chances to determine who really stuck out in a game. It’s usually a pretty simple task; it’s not uncommon for just three or four players to shine.
Last night, everyone in white was outstanding. I’m not exaggerating. The lowest five-on-five Fenwick score from Nashville’s roster belongs to Viktor Arvidsson, who posted a 58.82%. Remember, anything between 50%-55% would be considered a good score. For the worst performer on a team to post a 58%, well, it paints a picture of pure domination.
Fenwick refers only to unblocked shot attempts. When you expand to look at all shot attempts (Corsi), here’s how the game unfolded:
Domination is a good word to use, actually. The Nashville Predators held an advantage in shot attempts consistently for sixty minutes. So far this season, that’s an incredibly rare phenomenon for the Predators.
How it happened
In addition to the advantage in shot attempts, the Predators dominated in a couple of other areas as well. Particularly, scoring chances provide insight as to how the game was won. Andrew Berkshire illustrates the concept perfectly here:
When the dust had settled, the Vancouver Canucks produced 18 scoring chances at five-on-five. The Nashville Predators, on the other hand, produced an incredible 43. Even more impressive was the difference in high-danger chances, or those from the red area in the above graphic. Nashville created sixteen at five-on-five, while Vancouver produced just eight. These trends are reflected in the shooting heat map from last night:
As you can see, Nashville made themselves right at home in the high-danger area.
For a “fun” exercise, you can multiply the number of scoring chances by the expected save percentages to determine what the score “should have” been. In this case, your answers will round to a final score of 7-3 in Nashville’s favor. As usual, Pekka Rinne played extremely well, holding the Canucks to just a single goal.
Keep it up
The Predators certainly started this back-to-back off with a bang, but now have to finish. Tonight, they visit the Edmonton Oilers, who have been surprisingly good in the past couple of weeks.
Currently, the Oilers sit in 28th place in the NHL, which is certainly a good sign for Nashville. However, it’s clear that the Oilers are a mad hockey team. In three out of their last five games, they have scored at least six goals. Impressively, they decimated a very good Columbus Blue Jackets team on Tuesday night.
The Nashville Predators cannot allow themselves to be overly pleased. Tonight, they’ll need to stay hungry and keep the energy up. Expect the Oilers to match Connor McDavid up against Matt Irwin and Yannick Weber whenever possible, which could cause trouble.
You can do your part by kneeling before your Juuse Saros altars today. I predict he will need the spiritual support.