Nashville Predators: The Winged Wheel Rolls Over Nashville

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

What can we say about this game besides another great goaltender performance wasted? The Nashville Predators showed little signs of life throughout.

Juuse Saros did everything he could, but alas, it wasn’t enough. The Nashville Predators couldn’t figure out a rag-tag defense and Czech headcase, Petr Mrazek. There’s an argument to be made that what we’re seeing is the results starting to match the underlying numbers, but that’s an article for another time. Instead, let’s focus on the Saturday night’s game.

Pucks On Net

Wayne Gretzky once said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”, and while the math kind of checks out, I’d like to add something on. You don’t score on 100% of the shots that are blocked.  The Red Wings blocked a lot of shots, but the Predators made it pretty easy. For reference, I’m using shot attempts (Corsi), unblocked shot attempts (Fenwick), and actual shots on net at five on five.

The chart tells a story. The Nashville Predators dominated shot attempts, but most of theirs were blocked. Then, 13 of those unblocked attempts missed the net, resulting in 27 shots. Meanwhile, the Wings only had 46 attempts but managed to sneak most of them by the skaters, and managed to connect on 75% of those unblocked attempts.

You gotta hit the net if you want to score, no one knows that better than the lone goal scorer last night, Craig Smith. Of course, his goal was on the power play and therefore doesn’t show above, but still, it’s important. This has been a large trend over the season and will need to change if the Predators wish to score more than one goal at five on five per game.

Third Pair Blues

I’ve already talked about this at length, and I don’t want to get too much into it. But the third pair continues to be a disaster for the Predators. Whether it’s Weber and Emelin, or Irwin and Bitetto, the third pair gets throttled night in and night out. Let’s take a look at the stats briefly and then move on to something fresher. For reference, I’m using Fenwick, high danger chances (HDC), and goals.

Predators Have No Answer For Mantha-Zetterberg-Nyquist

In the salary cap era, every team has a star and/or a very good first line. Anthony Mantha, Henrik Zetterberg, and Gustav Nyquist are just that for the Winged Wheel, and they ran over the Predators.

What can I say besides that they dominated the Nashville Predators? The sad fact is that they probably could’ve had another goal or two if it hadn’t been for the stellar play of Juuse Saros.

The defense looked content just watching the trio speed by on zone entries and looked docile in the corners. As is the story with this game, it could’ve been way worse.

Poor Saros

Hooray for heatmaps eh?

The Nashville Predators have developed this really bad habit where they rely on their power play and goaltender to win games. It’s somehow worked so far, but anyone who watched the Colorado Avalanche in 2013-14 knows that it’ll come crashing down eventually. Saros had an incredible game last night, despite his defense hanging him out to dry multiple times. The first goal against was a breakaway to Luke Witkowski, which is absolutely unacceptable. The second goal was a good tip by Nyquist, so we can assign blame however you wish, but I’ll say that it has more to do with the Predators’ inability to exit the zone.

Onto The Next One

The Ottawa Senators roll into town on Monday at 7PM Central. It’ll probably be a boring one as the trap will make a return to Nashville, but it could be one of Erik Karlsson‘s last games as a Senator. So that’s pretty neat.

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