Worst Predators Game: January 4 at Arizona Coyotes (3-2 overtime loss)
The 3-0 loss in Vegas to begin January was a strong contender, but at least the Golden Knights are one of the best teams in the NHL. The Arizona Coyotes are the worst team in hockey. Losing to them is throwing points away, which nobody in the Central Division can afford to do.
Nashville should have had it taken care of in regulation, but as has happened too many times this season, the opposition scored a goal in the last three minutes to force overtime. Overtime is rarely good news for Nashville, other than they get one point when they lose. As I said, every point counts in the Central Division.
Best Offensive Predator: Viktor Arvidsson
It wasn’t the best of months for the Nashville Predators’ offensive players. Most of Nashville’s scoring came from their defensemen. Ryan Johansen went goalless for January while Kyle Turris didn’t find the net with a shot until the last game of the month. Kevin Fiala & Craig Smith had some points, but not as many as usual.
Viktor Arvidsson missed two games early in the month due to injury. He picked up right where he left off, scoring three goals & assisting on two more during January. His best performance was in New Jersey, where he was part of all three Predators goals by either shooting the puck or getting down low & annoying the goalie. It was vintage Arvidsson.
Even when he & his teammates are in an offensive slump, Arvidsson is always putting his nose to the grindstone. He knows that he has to keep chipping away and eventually the goals will come. It’s that dedication that makes him a good example for his teammates & keeps Nashville in games where they don’t have their best stuff.
Most Valuable Predator: P.K. Subban
P.K. had a highly successful January. On the ice, he was the Nashville Predators’ top point scorer with three goals & five assists. He averaged the second-most time on ice among Predators, just behind Roman Josi. He captained the Central Division in the All-Star Game & finished second in the Hardest Shot competition.
Off the ice, he represented the NHL on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Let’s be honest: NHL players don’t get a lot of time on American TV shows that aren’t hockey games. Sidney Crosby isn’t hanging out with Stephen Colbert. I don’t remember the last time Patrick Kane played Celebrity Beer Pong with Jimmy Fallon. Part of the deal with Subban is he’s a guy with a big personality that translates to the mainstream. He’s a superstar in a sport that could really use some.
David Poile knew this when he traded Shea Weber for Subban. P.K.’s presence alone makes the Predators relevant to folks who otherwise don’t know much about the sport. For most of Nashville’s time in the NHL, people barely knew the city had a hockey team. That’s P.K.’s importance to this franchise in a nutshell. Add in the fact he’s really good at his job, and you can’t ask for much more.