Having just ended the longest scoreless streak in franchise history, the Predators will look to begin a different kind of streak on Friday as they take on the Flyers in a mid afternoon tilt in Philly.
A winning streak is something that feels a bit foreign, despite the Predators decent position in the standings. It's been over a month since the Preds won more than 2 games in a row. Hopefully Wednesday's win over the Sabres can catapult the Preds into a series of positive results.
It's a 2:30 afternoon puck drop for this one, so tune in early!
The Philadelphia Flyers
And you thought the Preds had scoring problems...
The Flyers are dead last in the NHL in scoring at 1.73 goals/game. That's really, really bad. Claude Giroux is of course their leading scorer with 8 goals, but outside of him and Brayden Schenn, no one else really scares you. Wayne Simmonds is shooting way below his career average at 5.5%. Michael Raffl has been getting top-line minutes and has 3 points in 22 games. Other young guys like Scott Laughton and Sean Couturier have been just as bad in their roles. Jakub Voracek has 1 goal on 68 shots this year... that's an appalling 1.50 SH%.
But it's not like the Flyers are throwing a bunch of aging vets out there that can't hack it any more (insert Vincent Lecavalier joke here). They are relying on their youth to get through the growing pains as quickly as possible. They are getting a really good look at what they've been stockpiling for the last few years, and they are probably realizing that the cupboard isn't exactly brimming with talent.
But they are probably fielding mountains of trade requests for Giroux, so they may get more chances at hitting it big with the 2016 draft.
The Nashville Predators
Wednesday's goal output was a joy to watch, but things are far from fixed. The Preds still have a host of offensive woes that need addressed. We just aren't seeing the things we need to see out there. Players like Filip Forsberg, Colin Wilson, Mike Ribeiro and others are not contributing in the ways the team needs them to. Especially Forsberg.
Through November 27th of last season, Forsberg had racked up 10 goals and 22 points on his way to the best rookie season in franchise history. He immediately shot to the top of everyone's Calder Trophy favorites list and was quickly becoming a fan favorite among Predators fans. Poems were written about him. It was a sensation that Nashville had not seen in a long time.
But this year he's slumping bad. He's got 2 goals and 11 points through 21 games. He's shooting 3.8%. He's finding his way to the penalty box more than usual (last year he had 24 PIMs in 82 games... he already has 16 PIMs so far this year). And if you are watching these games, you've noticed he is visibily frustrated, slow to react, and somewhat lost on the defensive end (although he has been decent on the penalty-kill). He seems to be reaching for pucks and trying to make too much happen at once, rather than just letting the game come to him. He still has the skills, of course, but he is in a serious mental block it would appear. The shots he is pumping on net look like practice shots. As if he's saying to himself "Ok, just generate a shot here, see if you remember how to do it." Almost like a pitcher that lost the strike zone and then goes out and hums a few 85 mph meatballs at the plate just to see if he can find it again.
Filip will find his strike zone again. He's still one of the top even-strength possession players on the team at 55.09 CF% , which is good to see. His shooting percentage will be considerably higher than 3.8% at the end of the year. We will see the old Forsberg once again.
Reasons To Watch
- Ignore the 50% off flat-screen TVs and the $5 iPod shuffles for a moment. Take a few moments today to appreciate what really makes America great: the Philadelphia Flyers being bad at hockey.
- Colton Sissons got the call up yesterday. I like what we've seen out of this kid so far. Maybe he can finally play well enough to unseat Eric Nystrom on that 4th line (spoiler: he won't. No one will. Jari Kurri in his prime wouldn't unseat Eric Nystrom from the 4th line).
- Peter Laviolette gets his 2nd chance at beating the team that fired him on their own ice. The Preds lost in a shootout 3-2 last year in Philly, which was also an afternoon game. Hopefully Lavy gets his moment of glory today.
The Important Details
As mentioned above, it's a 2:30 pm puck-drop. FS-TN for TV, 102.5 The Game for radio.