We know the last few weeks have been tough for the Nashville Predators as a team, but what about the individuals? It's time to review some first-half results...
The actual halfway point of the 2013 Nashville Predators' season doesn't come until Friday night's game against Edmonton, but with a few days off until then, and no time between that and Saturday's game against Minnesota, we'll go ahead and hand out 1st Half report cards, beginning with the defensemen and goalies. Despite the team's overall slide down through the standings, this group as a whole is faring better than the rest.
Our stats box for each player features three advanced stats, harvested in part from Behind the Net:
- ARC (Adjusted Relative Corsi) is meant to reflect the flow of play in 5-on-5. It reflects the Relative Corsi value from BTN 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 primarily in defensive-zone settings will naturally have poor raw Corsi numbers, so we compensate for that by making an adjustment of 0.4 Corsi events per extra zone start in either direction.
- 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 has managed to muscle his way past Scott Hannan onto the second pairing alongside Kevin Klein of late, and is getting steady second-unit work on the power play. This season has been characterized as make-or-break for Blum as an NHL-caliber defenseman, and so far, he's making it.
Is he being sheltered by playing 3rd pair at even strength, and relatively fewer shifts starting in the defensive zone compared to his teammates? Certainly, but there's no shame in that for a guy in his first full NHL season. Ellis is, to use a football analogy, moving the chains for Nashville more consistently than any other blueliner, and shows great promise on the power play. The coaching staff also has great confidence playing him in key 4-on-4 situations, such as when he set up Colin Wilson's overtime winner against San Jose back on February 12.
Since our 1st quarter assessment, Gill only played in 3 more games before a lower-body injury knocked him out of the lineup. Notably, the penalty kill has turned into a complete disaster over the last several games. In 4-on-5 play, among Nashville's core PK group.
Hannan has seen work on every level at even strength already this season, from the top to the third pair, and has struggled a bit of late. Things aren't as bad as they might seem at first glance, however, as Hannan's 960 PDO speaks to some poor puck luck in 5-on-5. The penalty kill, however? Yuck... and that's something he was brought in to bolster.
Josi's puck-possession numbers have moderated in a bad way since the first quarter, but his offensive game burst out in a big way in the 5-4 comeback win over Dallas, in which he recorded two goals and two assists. He is back working the top pair along with Shea Weber, and seems comfortable there on a night-to-night basis (although we hope he learned a thing or two about protecting the puck after Jeff Carter picked his pocket the other night in L.A.).
Like Josi, Klein's puck possession numbers have trended downward in the second quarter, but they're still better than most of his teammates. Klein has also continued to do well on the penalty kill, where he coughs up goals at less than half the rate of Weber & Josi.
8 points in his last 11 games has quieted some of the criticism, but there's a legitimate concern that Weber has indeed been missing his longtime partner Ryan Suter. His Corsi numbers are the worst in many years (I'll have more on that tomorrow), and he's been right in the middle of the PK meltdown, too. Out of 149 defensemen around the NHL with at least 10 games played and 1 minute of 4-on-5 ice time per game, Weber has yielded goals at the 7th-fastest rate.
In the second quarter, Mason laid an egg in his only start (at Colorado on Presidents Day, remember that one?) and came into two other games relieving Pekka Rinne. Hopefully that stinker in Denver is well in the rear-view mirror.
The second quarter started on a high note, with back-to-back shutouts over the Sharks & Coyotes, but the last nine games have been awful, featuring an .875 save percentage since February 16. Some of that responsibility can be passed along to a bunch of skaters which gives him little offensive support to work with, but when Rinne plays like a mere mortal, this team takes on a whole different appearance.