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Looking Behind, Forging Ahead Week 11: Light Schedule Upcoming

Only two games this week, and they could both go either way.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Predators played all three of last week's games on the road, and came away with two victories. Each of which were against bottom-feeding teams that they should have beaten. Yet, even with four of a possible six points, Nashville still found themselves take a slight tumble in the standings. That's how tough the Central is right now.

So let's take a look behind the curtain.

The Stats

Last Week
Games Fenwick% PDO Off ZS % TeamGF TeamGA TeamG+/- TeamG% Faceoff % TOI
3 52.58 98.11 42.86 6 7 -1 46.15 47.93 156.98
This Week
3 45.9 105.6 50 5 1 4 83.3 36.9 135.3
Season
29 52.9 103 49.8 60 34 26 63.8 47.1 1411.5

Oof. That is something you never want to see: a high PDO with a terrible FF%. There are a number of things at play here, possibly. Just about everything the team looked at ended up behind Mike Smith on Tuesday night, which would account for a high shooting percentage, even for Nashville's standards. Then Pekka Rinne absolutely stoned the Sharks despite his team feeding him to the, um... wolves?

But that game against the Sharks really brought the overall numbers down. Despite winning the possession battles against Arizona and Colorado, the Preds still ended the week with the lowest Fenwick percent all year, thanks to their lackluster performance on Saturday. At first I thought it might just be score effect* from the Coyotes game, but Nashville was a paltry 44.3 FF% when within a goal, and an abysmal 38.9 FF% when tied. (Though they only spent 13 minutes tied the entire week, so small sample size and all.)

This hasn't been a trend all year, so hopefully we can write this one off as a few bad circumstance coming together. I'm still keeping a close eye on the overall stats, given how weird things have been lately.

*Starting next week, I'll be using data collected when the team is within a goal, rather than all situations. Now that "5v5 Close" is no longer a thing, it's the best way to gauge a team without all the murkiness of score effects.

(Player stats were still being wonky, so here's a link to the spreadsheet.)

Not much has changed season wise, but you can certainly see the damage that was done to the team in San Jose. Mike Ribeiro and James Neal were the only two positive possession forwards this week, and that most likely had to do with their sheltered minute. Meanwhile, Filip Forsberg was given the same deployment and didn't fare as well. Oops.

Golden Star of the Week

  • Pekka Rinne - Like we could really give it to anyone else? Between the shutout and only giving up one even strength goal all week, Rinne has not only penciled his name into the top spot for the Vezina, but should also be getting some Hart consideration as well. Depending on where Nashville ends in the standings, (hint: Wild Card or above) you bet we'll be pounding that drum.

Not-So-Golden Star of the Week

  • ... - You know, the Sharks came was abjectly terrible, but I have a hard time calling anyone out this week. What do you guys think?

Player to Keep an Eye On

  • Gabriel Bourque - Bourquechop saw his way back into the lineup in the middle of last week, thanks to some injury issues. Depending on what is going on with Paul Gaustad and Taylor Beck, Gabby just might find himself in the lineup longer than expected. He's looked better this go round than he did at the beginning of the season, and he got rewarded for that empty net in Colorado. Still, you might argue he could fill in well on the third line if needed, and he's certainly trying to play himself out of the press box.
***

Only two games on the schedule this week. Let's get to it! (But not too fast, because we'll be without hockey for a bit.)

Tuesday, December 16th vs. Boston

2013-14 Record Against: 0-1-1

The Bruins have been extremely good the past few years. Maybe you've heard about it. They destroyed the Predators last year, embarrassing them 6-2 in Nashville during the first meeting, then getting an overtime goal by Rat Face Brad Marchand in the second. The script has been flipped a bit this year, with the Bruins struggling to win games and the Predators surprising everybody. Both of this season's games between the two come in the next seven days, so some payback could very well be in order.


Reasons to Boo the Bruins

  • Bruins employ more jackasses per capita than the rest of NHL.
  • Milan Lucic will fight you and jump you from behind, but whine about "not being ready" when someone finally pops him in his face. It's only gutless when it isn't happening to you. Got it.
  • Have you ever watched Marchand play? (There might be a little bad blood between he and James Neal.)
  • In fairness to Marchand, it's not like he's the only one on the team to embellish.

Saturday December 20th @ Minnesota

2013-14 Record Against: 2-2-1

Finally, the last Central division foe makes an appearance. The Wild are another team that haven't lived up to expectations so far this year, and their prized free agent acquisition is uh... well, not going so great. Last season's split was pretty even, though we'll still have the final game of the season to look back on.

With Chicago and St. Louis gaining altitude in the Central, each and every intra-divisional game becomes magnified. They don't need to run the table (though it would be nice) but walking into Xcel Energy Center and grabbing a win after several days off would be the perfect way to cap the week.


Reasons to Boo the Wild