Sunday's loss against Chicago brought the Nashville Predators to the one-quarter mark of this abbreviated 48-game regular season, so that means the players headed home with report cards in their backpacks. Who's getting the job done, and who needs to shape up?
Let's start our review of the Nashville Predators' 1st quarter of the 2013 season with the blueliners and goalies.
Our stats box for each player features three advanced stats:
- ARC (Adjusted Relative Corsi) is meant to reflect the flow of play in 5-on-5. It reflects the Relative Corsi value for each player (how Total Shots For & Against per 60 Minutes balance during his ice time as compared to when he's on the bench), including an adjustment for whether that player starts more of his shifts at either end of the ice. For example, a player who is used in defensive-zone settings will naturally have poor raw Corsi numbers, so we compensate for that.
- COMP reflects the Quality of Competition that player is facing, using their Relative Corsi values. The higher the number, the tougher the opponents that player is skating against.
- TEAM shows a similar value for the Quality of Teammates that a player is skating with. Is he in there with the top line, or the scrubs?
Blum took a while to work his way into the lineup, but has performed moderately well in a protected role. He's usually worked the 3rd pair at even strength and is moving the puck well. He also plays a little under two minutes per game on the power play, which has yet to cash in while he's been on the ice.
Ellis is playing a larger role than Blum, with about 30% more ice time in both even strength and power play situations. While the flow of play in 5-on-5 hasn't been much to shout about (there have been many times when he gets pinned in his own zone and has trouble breaking up a cycle), the power play has worked out better, as he leads the Predators with two PP goals.
Gill's not a puck-possession type of defender, and is slotted into a 3rd-pair & penalty killing role. Even strength work is going OK, while the penalty kill has been a real plus. Gill plays a team-leading 3:38 per game shorthanded, and has put up solid results there so far.
A recent switch to top-pairing duty alongside Shea Weber has Hannan in deep water these days, as he's not the sort of puck-rusher or -mover to support top-line forwards (he does lead the Predators and is tied for 11th in the league with 29 blocked shots, however). He fills a secondary role on the penalty kill, where his skills are better suited.
We have to keep reminding ourselves that Josi is a 2nd-year player, and manage expectations appropriately. His puck-possession measures have been outstanding (on a team which desperately needs such a boost), while playing on either the 1st or 2nd pair at even strength, but his contributions on the power play haven't been as strong.
Klein is the stopper, given a steady diet of Top Six forwards to defend against, and a leading role on the penalty kill. He's getting that job done (without taking a single penalty along the way), and is leading the defense in scoring as well. You've come a long way, Kleiner.
The captain carries a heavy burden, standing 7th in the NHL with 26:37 of ice time per game, in all manner of critical situations. Despite Barry Trotz's protestations, it does take more than one assist in 12 games to play what most would consider Norris Trophy-caliber defense, however.
Mase has only played twice so far, but has been outstanding in both outings. His beard is All-Star material, too.
Simply put, Pekka has been the team MVP so far. When a team ranks 30th in goal scoring, but 11th in the league's overall standings full marks go to the goalie.