D, E-F, E-N-S-E, DEFENSE!
The Nashville Predators have the best top-four defensemen in the league. The combination of P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm have been on the ice for 12 total Predators goals during 5v5 play this year. This is tied for second among all pairings in the NHL. Additionally, they have faced 211 shot attempts and 169 unblocked shot. Still, their 53.7% CorsiFor and 55% FenwickFor ratings are top ten among defensemen. Predators goalies are saving 93.9% of all shots while the second d-men pairing is in action.
But, there are two other players who deserve attention. Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis are just as good – if not better – than Subban and Ekholm. While they have been on ice for 11 Predators goals, opponents have only 4 goals against them. They have faced 217 shots, 160 unblocked attempts, which are among the 10 most in the league. Josi and Ellis fight off most of these, giving the team a .969 save percentage.
All four of the Predators top defensive pairings rate in the top 12 at their position, according to Corsica Hockey. But, defense is also a team aspect. Last year, they ranked Nashville as the second-best defense in the NHL. While there is no rating available, but watching the Predators shows this as a strength.
How many times have we witnessed Ryan Hartman or Viktor Arvidsson take advantage of a breakaway opportunity? The team defense turns turnovers into points in short order. Every player is involved. Players like Kevin Fiala and Nick Bonino may not be scoring points, but they are gaining the puck in key battles, leading to scoring chances.
The Predators have allowed the seventh-fewest high-danger chances all season. This resulted in 8 goals and a 66.67% HDGF rating. No one is better.