Nashville Predators: Matt Duchene Living Up to the Hype Early On

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 3: Matt Duchene #95 of the Nashville Predators faces off against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena on October 3, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 3: Matt Duchene #95 of the Nashville Predators faces off against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena on October 3, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The spotlight was naturally going to be all over Matt Duchene heading into the new season for the Nashville Predators. He’s delivering early on.

Duchene is already making a huge impact on the Nashville Predators and the way their offense operates. He hasn’t tallied a goal just yet, but he’s already up to five assists through two games. It’s fair to say that the Predators have never had a more complete player than Duchene.

The Predators have split their first two games of the season, with a win over the Minnesota Wild and a loss to the Detroit Red Wings. In both games, Duchene was masterful at controlling possession of the puck and setting up linemates. Surprisingly enough, he has just four shots on goal through those two games. He’s more than making up for it by setting other teammates up.

It’s going to be so fun to watch Duchene transform this offense throughout this season. I fully expect the Predators to finish in the top ten of the league in goals at season’s end. Duchene is obviously a big reason why I believe that. Does anyone remember the dark ages of Predators hockey when they had to grind for 2-1 wins every night? That’s now a distant memory.

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Will he fix the power play woes?

The Predators power play already looks so much more fluid and active with Duchene in the mix. His ice vision is tremendous as well as his ability to hold possession. Two keys to running a successful power play. Against the Red Wings, the Predators got their first power play goal of the young season thanks to a beautiful assists from Duchene to Viktor Arvidsson:

This is an early example of what Duchene is going to do for this Nashville power play. And huge props to Chris Mason on Fox Sports Tennessee for drawing up this exact scenario before the game. Check it out here:

Even before Duchene’s hot start to this season dishing out assists, I felt that he was going to have a high probability of setting a new franchise record for assists. Playing alongside Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, Mikael Granlund and Roman Josi either at even strength or on the power play is going to give him ample opportunities to pile up the assists. Paul Kariya has the record with 54 assists in 2005-06. That’s very attainable for Duchene.

As for the Nashville power play, it’s going to take baby steps. I do think they’re going to be vastly better than last season that saw them finish in last place in the league. Seeing the Predators improve to the top half of the league in this category should end up happening with the presence of Duchene.

Will he keep it up?

You can’t draw hasty conclusions through two regular season games, but one thing to keep an eye on is how the bottom six performs. We know the top two lines for the Predators are going to collectively be one of the best in the NHL. That’s why the Predators sacrificed P.K. Subban to the New Jersey Devils over the offseason because they knew they needed Duchene to solidify the top two lines.

It’s pretty incredible how quickly Duchene has adjusted to playing in Nashville. He always wanted to play here, and it’s really showing early on through the preseason and two regular season games. His possession numbers through two games are pretty astonishing, too. His Corsi percentage is over 60 and his offensive zone start percentage is over 70 percent. In other words, he’s generating a lot of offensive pressure for the Predators.

He’s obviously going to cool off a little bit and have his off nights However, I think more of the norm is going to be Duchene coming in a little shy of averaging a point per game. If he avoids injury or suspension, he’s a lock in my opinion to finish with 70-plus points, which hasn’t happened for the Predators in over a decade when Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont did it.

Bold Predictions for the Nashville Predators This Season. dark. Next

The Predators have two more games left on this homestand to open the 2019-20 campaign. We should be in store for Duchene’s first goal as a member of the Nashville Predators in the next game or two. I’m calling my shot right now that he continues his hot start with a power play goal tomorrow night against the San Jose Sharks.