In one of the more exciting finishes you’ll ever see in a hockey game, the Nashville Predators scored two goals in the final 60 seconds of regulation to get the upset victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.
For the Predators, it’s a welcome sign of a relief during a season where a lot of growth has taken place, some good things have been shown, but the wins haven’t been there on a consistent basis.
It appeared that the Predators were heading to another one of those losses feeling like the team played well enough to win, but would come up just short of getting rewarded with any points in the standings.
Forsberg is a Man on a Mission, Poised to Top 2021-22
Forsberg now has eight goals in his last seven games after only scoring once in his first 10 games. The volume of shots was always there, and we knew that the law of averages would tilt back in his favor if he kept doing the right things.
On Monday against the Avalanche, Forsberg added another two goals to his season total. His first coming on his patented wrister while skating freely into the slot. He had Alexander Georgiev dead to rights after
made the crafty backhand pass for his first point of 2023-24.
A couple things to obviously love about this play; Glass using his skating and patience to find Forsberg moving into a high danger area all alone. No clue how the Avalanche defense lost track of a skilled player like Forsberg.
Secondly, if you’re a lip reader you can see in the celebration that Forsberg was clear to the young Glass what a great pass that was. Huge for Glass’ confidence moving forward to see this play develop and get rewarded with the primary assist.
When Forsberg exploded for 84 points in 2021-22, leading up to his contract expiring, it was fair to wonder if this was just motivation for a new contract or if this was a sign of things to come.
Forsberg has 19 points in 16 games this season, well ahead of his pace last season before suffering the concussion in February that kept him sidelined the rest of the year.
Now that Forsberg is finding the back of the net on a regular basis, you see his shooting percentage gradually climbing back up to normal territory, but his shot volume isn’t decreasing.
Forsberg is 4th in the NHL in Shots on Goal Per 60 Minutes at 13.38, and 16th in Expected Goals alongside his linemate Ryan O’Reilly at 15th in Expected Goals.
Shots on Goal Per 60 Minutes Leaders, Min. 50 Minutes Ice Time (Per MoneyPuck)
- David Pastrnak- 15.32
- William Nylander- 13.77
- Brady Tkachuk- 13.47
- Filip Forsberg- 13.38
- Owen Tippet- 13.36
The Reset for Saros was Beneficial, But His Defense Stepped up Too
After getting almost a week off from his last start, Juuse Saros came into a brutal matchup for any goalie to take on against the Colorado Avalanche. He had to be at his sharpest form playing in his 300th NHL game.
I’ve been very adamant about the Predators needing to use Kevin Lankinen more, and they did that finally on Saturday in a win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Saros was coming into this start against the Avalanche in the midst of a personal five-game losing streak, all in regulation, and some genuine concerns beginning to take shape. Including being outside the top-70 in Goals Saved Above Expected, and outside the Top-40 among goalies in High Danger Save Percentage.
While Saros did make some critical saves, the Predators defensive front really stepped up big time as well. They held the potent Avalanche to just 2.24 Expected Goals, while Saros made 25 saves but still surrendered three goals.
Tyson Barrie led the Predators in blocked shots with three, while Jeremy Lauzon and Roman Josi added two blocks each. The high quality of shots to get on Saros wasn’t really there for the Avalanche for much of the night. A lot of easy saves for Saros to see the puck well.
Even if the numbers aren’t stellar from Saros, the reset did help. And just getting the win and having the positive juices flowing again was important to springboard the franchise goalie into a hot streak.
The Predators have a Wednesday night matchup with the Calgary Flames up next. I’m expecting Head Coach Andrew Brunette to turn to Saros again, but I remain strong with my position that Lankinen needs more starts.
Sticking to the Process, Chipping Away at Standings, And Evangelista Benching
We can’t get too caught up in where the Nashville Predators are in the standings right now. Not even a quarter of the way through the season yet.
The energy and the poise the Predators showed in this win over the Avalanche illustrates that this team is fully bought in and they’re more than capable of hitting a winning streak that can offset that ugly road trip and the way the homestand begun.
This game was interesting because Brunette surprisingly decided to healthy scratch Luke Evangelista and instead go with Liam Foudy. The reasoning was basically all about confidence and doing the right things.
As talented as Evangelista is, these coaches understand that a player this young has to be mentally in the right place and shattering that player’s confidence so early can be detrimental.
Brunette emphasized that Evangelista just needs some time to get focus on some things in his game that he hasn’t been showing recently. He also made it clear he’ll be right back in the lineup and some performance issues needed to be addressed before he keeps “sliding” if we wait 10 more games to find it.
Just like the players, the fans also have to trust the process. No one wants to see Evangelista healthy scratched, or see Philip Tomasino for that matter on the bench, either. These are key pieces to the Predators’ future, but Brunette is thinking about the long game here, which you ultimately have to respect.
Now Tomasino has found his way back into the lineup and has looked much more engaged and aggressive in his decision making and skating. Evangelista might even get next game off as well, but eventually he’ll return and hopefully he’ll be better off from it.
Brunette sees a lot of things we as the fan don’t see. On the surface Evangelista seems to be playing just fine, but Brunette and the coaching staff realize how important Evangelista will be to this team down the stretch. Have to get him in the right place now.
The Predators have three more division games coming up in the next 10 days. A road game at the St. Louis Blue is very important to chipping away at the standings, and then home games against the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild next week.