Nashville Predators: Five Thoughts For Friday, January 19th

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 18: Scott Hartnell
NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 18: Scott Hartnell /
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The Nashville Predators have finally broken the curse and beaten the Vegas Golden Knights. It was a fast and wide open game, but it was a win.

Both teams came ready to play and it resulted in one of the best games of the season. Everyone was sharp, and despite injuries to some key forwards, the Nashville Predators won the night. The stats were pretty interesting, although nothing immediately jumped to my eye, except one particular category. Even though the Predators lost in four of five areas, the Predators won in high danger scoring chances. Granted, they only won 9 to 8, but that’s not an area where Nashville has dominated so far this season. Beating out Vegas is quite the accomplishment, whether it’s in a certain category or in a game.

The other deciding factor in the win was Juuse Saros. Saros started after a week in Milwaukee, which was probably the right decision considering Pekka Rinne hadn’t played in over 7 days. With Saros’ third shutout of the season, let’s take a look at how hot Saros has been in his last few games.

5. The Juuse is loose

After a very slow start to the season, Saros has regained his form and cemented himself as the goalie of the future in fans’ eyes. The young Fin is 5-3-3 in 12 games this season but three of his wins have been shutouts. His save percentage is actually above his career average 92.5% as Saros is sporting a 93%.

The NHL is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of league, so let’s see how Saros’ last five games have gone.

In his last five games, Saros is 2-1-2. That doesn’t sound super impressive but both wins were shutouts, and the one regulation loss came in relief of Rinne. Actually, in that loss, Saros didn’t give up a single goal on 26 shots. The two overtime losses came against sup bar teams, but the Predators played below subpar in front of Saros.

Hopefully Saros’ confidence grows and he continues to develop into a superstar, especially with how inconsistent Rinne has been.

4. Who was gifted a better line-up?

It’s snarky question time here at Predlines, and I have a decent one. Who was gifted a better line-up? The Islanders from Peter Chiarelli or Vegas from the NHL?

The Islanders have received a first pairing defenseman (Johhny Boychuk), a likely Calder winner (Matt Barzal), a young middle six player (Anthony Beauviller), and an awesome top six scoring winger (Jordan Eberle) for Ryan Strome, Griffin Reinhart, and a few second-round picks. That’s basically the Islanders’ elite second line and a first pairing defenseman for a bunch of busts and picks. Is it so surprising to see the Oilers floundering when you realize who’s at the helm?

Then there’s Vegas. A lot of Nashville Predators’ fans are seemingly mad at Vegas for being good in their first year. All I have to say is “boo hoo”. The NHL wants a team in a historically non-existent hockey market to succeed. Just understand that maybe the NHL isn’t trying to screw over the Predators, but instead trying to grow hockey. See beyond the Yellow and Blue and realize that hockey is not very popular. We should all be rooting for the Knights to succeed. Their victory is hockey’s victory.

All that being said, I still have no idea how Vegas is this good. Despite a lack of stars, they’re continuing to score key goals and dominate despite rolling four lines continuously. I will stick by my statement that the best acquisition by the Knights wasn’t a player, but coach Gerrard Gallant.

3. Owners should be seen, not heard

The ideal owner writes checks and then fades back into his luxury box as he watches his money win games. Some teams are not blessed with such owners, but a seemingly good one just jumped onto the scene. Tom Dundon has just bought a majority stake in the Carolina Hurricanes and said the only words he should have. He’s keeping the Hurricanes in Raleigh and informed the public, and franchise, that he won’t shake things up just for the sake of it.

Now that Dundon has introduced himself and established security in the organization, it’s his time to fade into the background. I hope the next time we see, or hear, from him is when he comes onto the ice to lift the cup. Which might not be too long for the budding Hurricanes.

2. The NHL could use some “Lebron-ism”

The NBA is the most loved sport in America at the moment, and there are a few reasons for it, but there’s one I want to focus on. Adam Silver and the NBA go out of their way to protect their star players, which create some funny jokes like how it’s a foul to look at Lebron the wrong way or how breathing on Steph Curry is a fineable offense. As silly as this stereotype might seem, the NBA is doing this for a reason. They’re protecting their cash cows and in turn, are choosing to protect stars over replaceable players.

Over the past week, William Carrier put his shoulder right into the head of Ryan Johansen who wouldn’t return for the entire game. Not only was their no penalty on the play, but there was no look at it from the DOPS or any coverage from any high-ranking media figures.

I understand that accidents happen, but this is unacceptable. The NHL is actively choosing to protect plugs and fourth liners over stars that put butts in seats. I don’t want to crucify Carrier, but throw the book at him and let everyone know that taking runs at stars will not be tolerated. Plus, this play could’ve easily been resolved as Carrier should not have left his feet.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I’m pretty sure I know the solution to this issue. Stop putting enforcers as the heads of the department of player safety. Put in a skill player who suffered multiple injuries throughout his stint in the NHL. The perfect candidate would be Paul Kariya, but I won’t hold my breath. I’m just scared of the day when a player ends Crosby’s career with a flying elbow and only receives a two-game suspension because it was, “a hockey play gone wrong”.

1. Johnny T on the Island

It has to be great to be John Tavares right now. His franchise is building a new stadium to keep him, they traded for his old buddy and World Junior teammate Jordan Eberle, and it looks like they’re going to back up dump trucks full of cash into his backyard. With all of these things happening, Tavares still has not signed on the line that is dotted…

Speculation has run rampant and I have no desire to extinguish the flames. Besides the obvious Montreal opening, a fun place for Tavares might be Vegas. They have the spot open as well as the cash, it could be a match made in heaven.

Now comes the part where you say, “but George, how could he leave after all that Isles have done? Especially now that they have an elite second line?”. Well here’s the thing, despite an incredible offense and scoring more goals than any other team, they can’t stop a puck to save their lives. They actually have the most goals scored as well as the most goals given up, it’s almost comical. What could you expect from Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak though?

That’s the issue, the goaltending. Well, that and the fact that the Islanders have done absolutely nothing to address it in the past few years. Elliotte Freidman stated that Robin Lehner could be an option, but officials from NYI have denied such claims.

I don’t think Tavares will leave, but could you blame him if he did?

Next: Is JoFA A Top Five Line In The NHL?