The 2013-14 Nashville Predators were 6-9 in Central Division road games last year, including 0-3 at Dallas and 0-2 at St. Louis. If the Preds want to continue their relevance at the top of the division, trends like that must change. It starts in Dallas tonight and continues in St. Louis on Saturday.
The Dallas Stars
I'm not sure any team is as disappointed with their start to the 14-15 season as the Dallas Stars. A team that expected to be easily competing for one of the top 3 playoff spots in the Central Division finds itself in nearly last place with 12 points and a meager 4-4-4 record. It isn't hard to find a culprit... he's between the pipes.
More from our team sites
More from our team sites
Kari Lehtonen is 33rd in the NHL with a .904 save percentage, which is 3rd worst among regular starters in the league. His play in goal has helped contribute to a 3.42 goals allowed per game average for Dallas, which is 26th in the NHL. Ouch. And their offense is scoring at a 2.83 goals per game rate, good for 10th in the league. I would love to read some of the group texts between the Stars forwards about their fellow goaltender.
It's a shame, really. The Stars have gotten needed contributions from their goal scores Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn. and Jason Spezza (14 goals combined) and decent contributions from lesser forwards like Antoine Roussel, Ryan Garbutt, and Shawn Horcoff (7 goals combined). Ales Hemsky has been a disappointment (only 1 point in 12 games) but I think "Hemsky" is the Czech word for "disappointment" so what could they expect?
The Stars will find their way back into the hunt for the Central Division. Either Lehtonen will improve his play or the offense will start scoring 4 goals a game. Let's just hope that doesn't start tonight.
The Nashville Predators
This is getting stupid.
The power-play is 4 for 36: 25th in the NHL.
The penalty-kill is at 70% efficiency: 28th in the NHL.
Come on...25th and 28th? Really? Stupid.
But here's something not stupid. Our even-strength Corsi numbers are getting better every game. And with even-strength ability, you have to believe things will come around for the special teams. Take a look at our Team Corsi % for the first month of the season for 2014 as compared to 2013. (Move the slider left to see 2014, move it right to see 2013)
The Preds are flat out getting it done with even numbers out on the ice. We just need those possession numbers to help improve the special teams. You have to think they will, right? Right.
I could spend another paragraph or two talking about how awesome Filip Forsberg has been playing, but you probably already knew that. I will mention that he leads all rookies with 12 points (4g, 8a) and a +14. Long live the prince.
Reasons To Watch
1. To boo Jason Spezza so loudly that your neighbors assume you've been abducted by aliens and replaced with a Boo Robot.
2. Because you want to say you knew about Filip Forsberg before knowing about Filip Forsberg was cool. This may be your last chance.
Music For Your Pre-Game Enjoyment
Texas Is The Reason probably didn't pen this song about Kari Lehtonen, but with lines like "I will always worry about you, I will always stick up for you" and "I will wait around for one more day... will this ever be ok?" you have to think he was in the back of their minds in 1996.
And Finally, Some Important Details
It's a 7:30pm start tonight! FS-TN will have your TV coverage, 102.5 will have your radio coverage.