We took a look at the goaltenders the other day, so now it is time to focus our attention on how the Nashville Predators defense played during the second month of the season. For your reference, here are October's grades...
Jump down to the bottom for the Behind the Net stats (which represent the season to date). Within each player capsule, stats reflect performance during the month of November.
#51 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators
Oct 17, 1975
|2009 - Francis Bouillon||13||1||2||3
Having settled into a steady job (over 20:00 a night) alongside Kevin Klein, Bouillon is starting to chip in a little bit offensively to go along with his consistent defensive work. He's been rewarded with close to 3 minutes of power play ice time per game, and has also played a large role on the penalty kill. Remember when I said long ago that he'd make people forget Greg Zanon? He's certainly on his way.
And if you look at the 5-on-5 numbers below and are concerned about his team-low GFON/60, keep in mind that it's about twice what it was a month ago, meaning that over the last month that number has been roughly in line with his teammates.
Francis Bouillon's grade: A-
#32 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators
Aug 08, 1987
|2009 - Cody Franson||13||1||2
Barry Trotz is careful to put the rookie in situations where he's best placed to succeed (see the QUALTEAM and QUALCOMP numbers down at the bottom; the quality of teammates he plays with is the hightest, and the quality of competition he plays against is low), but Franson is acquitting himself well so far. Surprisingly he hasn't really produced on the power play as much as one would expect, and that's where the team needs his talent most.
As seen in the game-by-game recaps, Franson has a strong impact on Shots For & Against; his "Relative Corsi", or the difference between Total Shots For & Against when he's on the ice vs. when he's on the bench, is the best on the team.
Cody Franson's grade:B+
#2 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators
Dec 13, 1982
|2009 - Dan Hamhuis||13||1||3||4||+6||8
What a turnaround for Hammer - a disastrous start has been largely reversed, as Goals Against in 5-on-5 have toned down considerably, and the penalty kill has been much better in recent weeks. He plays mostly along Franson, providing the safety net for the rook, and has provided the sort of two-way play Nashville fans have grown to expect over the last few seasons.
Dan Hamhuis' grade: B+
#8 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators
Dec 13, 1984
|2009 - Kevin Klein||13||0
Just as Hamhuis' play has steadied, so has Klein's. Since his offensive contributions are so limited, the nostrum that people often use for referees applies to Klein - when you don't notice him very much, you know he's done a good job. He too deserves credit for the rebounding penalty kill unit.
Kevin Klein's grade: B-
#52 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators
May 30, 1984
|2009 - Alexander Sulzer||2
Alexander Sulzer's grade: Incomplete
#20 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators
Jan 21, 1985
|2009 - Ryan Suter||13||0
Remember that post from a few days ago covering the 10 NHL Players Who Should Shoot the Puck More Often? Suter was #3 on that list for good reason, not the least of which is his extensive time (roughly 4:00 per game) on the power play. The Preds need more than just 10 shots a month out of him. His 5-on-5 results have taken a nasty turn for the worse, as well. Suter got off to a good start in October, and needs to reverse this recent slide.
Ryan Suter's grade: C-
#6 / Defenseman / Nashville Predators
Aug 14, 1985
|2009 - Shea Weber||11||1||5||6||-6||0||1||0||0||0||32||3.1|
While the goals have dried up a bit, the shots are still coming fast and furious, so there's little concern on that front. What really jumps out is that despite playing heavy minutes against top opponents regularly, Weber made it through the entire month without a single penalty. That speaks volumes to his hard work on the defensive end.
Shea Weber's grade: B+
Here are the 5-on-5 numbers for the season to date. For explanations behind the numbers, check Behind the Net:
|NAME||GP||TOI/60||RATING||QUALCOMP||QUALTEAM||PTS/60||GFON/60||GAON/60||+/- per 60|