The Predators started their season off with a bang, winning both games on the week at Bridgestone Arena. Not only that, but they looked good while doing it. It's hard to get excited with such a small sample size, but if the team plays like it has, they'll win more than people expect.
Again, two games is hardly enough to judge players' performances, and lucky for them the analytics websites don't have this season's cumulative numbers up yet. The goal for this section is to compare what the players did on the ice during the week with what they've done during the season. As the sample size gets bigger, we'll be able to see if the player had a worse (or better) week than usual, or if it's on par with their usual play.
We'll kick things off next Sunday to chew over the handful of games we've seen so far.
Golden Players of the Week
- Shea Weber - A go-ahead goal, a game-tying goal, several bone-crushing hits, and a blocked shot to keep his team in the game. Ho hum, just another day at the office for Weber.
- The Pluggers - Eric Nystrom and Paul Gaustad lead the team in points with four each, or 40% of the team's total output so far. Nystrom is shooting 100%. That probably isn't going to continue. Every good team needs contributions from their fourth line, but it shouldn't be counted on. Not to take anything away from what they've done, because both (Goose especially) have had two monster games.
- The Entire Second Line - Craig Smith, Derek Roy and Filip Forsberg have unquestionably been the best line on the team so far. They are consistently driving play towards the opponents net, and are seeing their work materialize on the score board. In two games they combined for six points (1G, 5A).
Not-So-Golden Players of the Week
- The First Line - Again with the small sample size, but the top line did well against Ottawa with sheltered minutes, and not so well against Dallas in less sheltered minutes. Not a single player touched a CF% of 40 on Saturday. James Neal is doing all he can (he leads the team with 11 shots) and Mike Ribeiro is in and out. The question is whether Gabriel Bourque is the right choice to be on that right-wing spot. Viktor Stalberg's imminent return will likely answer that.
Player to Keep an Eye On
- Olli Jokinen - Should have had a goal during the first period against Dallas, and has been playing as hard (if not harder) than anyone on the team. Just a matter of time.
Three games this week, folks...one at home, then out on the road for the first time this season. Let's get it on!
Tuesday, October 14th Calgary @ Nashville
2013-14 Record Against: 2-0-1
AKA the game you usually can't give away. With the Preds' hot start, I bet some of you can be dragged to the arena this time though. The Preds had some success against the Flames last year...in fact, they should've gone 3-0-0. That shootout loss in January? Oh, just the game we got FOUR GOALS from Eric Nystrom but couldn't win. Although it's tough to pick just one, this might've been the low point of the season.
Reasons to Boo the Flames
- Brian Burke...for running a team that PRACTICES FIGHTING. Oh, and he might've ruined the US Olympic team.
- Jonas Hiller used to be an Anaheim Duck. I don't know, I'm reaching here.
Friday, October 17th Nashville @ Winnipeg
2013-14 Record Against: 3-2-0
A bit of a mixed bag last year against the Jets, a team that finished 4 points behind the Preds in the standings. The January 28th game in Winnipeg featured another goal from known Canada-hater Seth Jones (yay!) another blown multiple goal lead (boo!), and a game-winner from Mike Fisher (get well soon!).
Reasons to Boo the Jets
- There's gotta be something, right?
- They're the Jets. You boo them because you're bored.
Saturday, October 18th Nashville @ Chicago
2013-14 Record Against: 4-1-0
If only the Preds could've played their entire schedule against Chicago last year! Seriously, I have no explanation for these results...but boy, did I enjoy them. Which win was the best? People seem to like the 7-2 win at Bridgestone in November...
Reasons to Boo the Blackhawks
- The only fan base in any sport, in any city, that LOVES to disrespect the anthem. Not even the other Chicago teams do this, so go ahead and sell that "Chicago Tradition" nonsense somewhere else.
- Jersey Watch: Kane, Kane, Kane, Griswold, Kane, Toews, Griswold, Toews, Griswold, St. Patrick's Day, Griswold again.
- Over-served on arrival with a 3-foot Indian headdress and ready to party!
- They do help our local law enforcement earn a ton of OT, so I guess that's a positive???
Jason: I'm going with 2-0-1. Calgary and Winnipeg are not good. Chicago is. I continue to believe this team is gonna be good, but 82-0-0 seems unrealistic. Modifying my season total to 81-0-1.
Jon: I actually think the team is going to manage to lose on of the Canadian games, but put in a solid effort against the Hawks. That's how hockey works. 2-1-0 sounds about right for the week, as long as they can keep doing what they've been doing.