Nashville Predators: Predators Have A Devil Of A Time In New Jersey

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 25: Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban (76) celebrates after scoring during the second period of the National Hockey League Game between the New Jersey Devils and the Nashville Predators on January 25, 2018, at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 25: Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban (76) celebrates after scoring during the second period of the National Hockey League Game between the New Jersey Devils and the Nashville Predators on January 25, 2018, at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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After a few games at home, the Nashville Predators traveled to New Jersey to take on a decimated Devils team. The result was as expected.

It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t terribly exciting at times, but the Nashville Predators emerged victorious. I like to imagine this is Nashville atoning for not taking advantage of Harri Sateri and Louis Domingue. Despite my insane beliefs that things like this are connected, one thing is for certain, the Predators took advantage of a young, inexperienced goaltender.

It wasn’t just sunshine and rainbows though, in fact, certain parts were a little “iffy” at times. I’m not saying that the away team didn’t deserve the win, but what kind of analysis is only positive? All that said, the main takeaway here is that Thursday’s game was a positive endeavor and something the Nashville Predators should look upon with pride.

All stats below are at five on five unless expressly stated otherwise.

Out high dangering the high danger-er

I mentioned in the preview that the New Jersey Devils never had a large quantity of chances, but made them count by making most of them high danger. So to say, the Devils are extremely good at getting to the slot and getting shots within 10 feet of the net. Today was no different except that the Nashville Predators out high danger chanced them 13 to12. A rare feat for the Predators who rank 27th in the NHL in high danger chances for.

Another way to look at this positive is that the Predators gave up way too many chances. To better understand, take a look at the heat chart below.

That deep blue area in the Predators’ offensive zone is a wonderful sign and will lead to many victories down the road. But in the other end, it’s as bad as I’ve seen this season. A team with P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm shouldn’t be giving up this many chances inside the slot. Even as Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis have improved their play in their own zone, things have not improved. It’s weird to say, but defense might be the biggest need on a team that boasts a top 3 defense in the NHL.

The third line stays hot as hell (hooray for puns)

In 8 minutes and 55 seconds at five on five, the third line dominated the Devils.

Fenwick %High Danger Chances For/AgainstOffensive Zone Start %
The Third Line

68.75%

3/2

25%

From the crude chart that I made above, we can tell the Predators are better for having this third line on the ice. They dominated unblocked shot attempts and won the high danger chance battle despite starting in the defensive zone three quarters of the time. There certainly wasn’t any sheltering versus the opposition as they played 6 of their 9 minutes against the Zacha line, which was technically the first line.

Arvidsson’s flies while Aberg and Johansen stay grounded

This is where my training as a scout kicks in and I’ll say that Ryan Johansen and Pontus Aberg played better than their stats allude to. Granted, they weren’t much better but Johansen is starting to drive to the net and shoot more, trust me, the goals will come. Besides the offensive woes, Johansen’s two-way game has flourished this season and the best evidence might be his breakup of an odd-man rush early in the game.

Ok, enough Johansen apologizing. Let’s take a look at the numbers, which, as we know, never ever lie. Let’s look at the chart I terribly created.

Fenwick %High Danger chances for/againstGoals For/Against
Viktor Arvidsson

76.92%

5/1

2/0

Ryan Johansen

47.06%

3/5

1/0

Pontus Aberg

54.55%

2/3

1/0

I just included the goals for to further illustrate how Arvidsson was just above the rest. Otherwise, the numbers are pretty self-explanatory. Arvidsson has way better possession scores and a better high danger ratio than anyone else on the team. His play has gotten better since the beginning of the new year and I hope the trend continues.

Defensemen getting in on the action

Both Mattias Ekholm and P.K. Subban had goals and primary assists against the Devils. These two are my favorite guys patrolling the blueline, and with good reason. Despite their commitment to defensive excellence, seeing them score is tons of fun. Also, both started in the offensive zone less than 40% of the time, which is a testament to how great they are at breaking the puck out.

Onto the next one

The next one is against the Blackhawks on Tuesday after the All-Star break.

Next: Five Thoughts For Friday, January 26th