Inside the Matchup
Both teams are three games into their seasons, and neither has started hot. The Nashville Predators opened with two hard-fought wins in New York but faced a Calgary Flames teams with a goalie on fire. Mike Smith saved every shot he faced during the game, including 14 high-danger chances. Viktor Arvidsson took a puck to the face early on Tuesday, meaning lines were shifted around. Statistically speaking, the Predators lead in all the important categories. CorsiFor and FenwickFor. Shots. High-danger chances. However, penalties and poor defense doomed their hopes as the Flame scored three goals.
Craig Smith and Mattias Ekholm continued to play well. Smith generated three high-danger chances on his own. The team’s FenwickFor rating was 73.08% with Ekholm on the ice, as he pushed the puck forward and kept the Flames at bay.
However, P.K. Subban has a rough game. Even though the stats show quality play, the eye-test says otherwise. The first goal of the game for the Flames came off a penalty by Subban. Granted, the Flames had a breakaway chance, but Subban’s stick became stuck in the skates. Clear penalty call. Another goal resulted from a breakaway chance in the third. Subban pinched down to support Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg along the way, fighting for the puck. However, it left Sean Monahan uncovered. Monahan attempted to pass the puck across the ice, but it deflected off Ekholm’s skate. Ekholm was left to cover three Flames. It was an unlucky moment.
As for the Jets, their season is off to a similar start. After opening the season with a 5-1 win in St. Louis, they feel to the Stars by a score of 5-1. The Jets then returned home and defeated the Kings, 2-1. In total, the Jets have gained 24 high-danger opportunities, including 13 against the Blues. They have turned those chances into only 4 goals. With the talent on their roster, it is only a matter of time before this changes.
The power play is where the Jets excel. Even with only 2 goals so far, the Jets push the action around the net, leading to 5 high-danger chances. Kyle Connor is leading the way with three goals on the year. Patrik Laine, who had 44 goals last season, is stuck on one goal right now.
For the Predators to win, the defense must step up. We know the Jets are a physical team, especially Dustin Byfuglien. Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis must find ways to keep on their skates and push Mark Scheifele and crew away from scoring chances. Kyle Turris and Ryan Johansen will need to find open ice and control the puck in the neutral zone, then get the puck to their wingmen.