The loss against the Blues hurt. Not only did the Preds lose yet another lead, they struggled to score goals and, for the first time in a while, they struggled to own puck possession and shot attempts. At times they looked pretty hapless. The Blues not only won, they definitely looked like the better team.
But in the Central, you can't dwell too much on the previous game, you just have to move on. You can't even really worry about what lies ahead. Take it one game at a time and just try to build on one positive play, one positive period, one positive result and worry about where you land later. You can't spend all your life looking away... to the future... to the horizon. You have to keep your mind on where you are, hmm? What you are doing, hmm?
Adventure, excitement, puck possession, Corsi... a Jedi craves not these things.
The Minnesota Wild
The last time the Preds faced the Wild was a veritable disaster. You'll recall it was right in the middle of that awful November stretch where the Preds couldn't score a goal for what seemed like years. The Preds only managed 23 shots on goal, the penalty-kill and power-play looked meager, Ryan Suter finally scored against his old team, Mike Ribeiro received a game misconduct for being ridiculous, and the Wild won 4-0.
Since then, the Wild have gone 6-2-3 in 11 games. Not setting the world on fire or anything, but they have certainly been better than the Predators. Thomas Vanek and Zach Parise lead the team with 11 and 10 goals respectively. While the Wild aren't really known for their scoring, they find themselves at 8th in the league in that regard, scoring 2.80 goals per game. Not too shabby. But their overall game is still a defensive one: they are 5th in the league in defense, allowing only 2.33 goals per game. They swallow up offenses consistently, methodically forcing opponents to the outside and never denying easy puck-entry. It's not fun to watch, but it's effective.
Devan Dubnyk, while he hasn't been the black hole he was last year, has certainly been solid in net with a .918 save % in 24 games. We can still root for #DubnykRegression2015, as he obviously won't touch the .929 that he posted last year, but it's looking more and more likely that he will continue to post numbers above his career average. Stability and confidence does a lot for a goalie. And Dubnyk always plays well against the Preds: he has a career .922 save % vs. Nashville, posting a 7-4-2 record in 13 starts.
The Nashville Predators
The Preds are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. They sit firmly at 5th in the Central, clinging to the 2nd Wild Card position. They can't find consistent scoring, their defense isn't strong enough to support a weakened offense, and their goalie is showing some serious holes. Most of the money that was spent in the off-season on retaining aging forwards has unsurprisingly not paid off.
About the only positive in Predators camp right now is Roman Josi.
The 25-year-old Swiss is leading the team with 23 points (8 goals, 15 assists). His shooting % is in double-digits for the first time in his career at 10.4%. He leads the team in blocked shots at 86 (3rd best in the league). He leads all Preds skaters in ice-time. His 12 points on the power-play are 2nd on the team to his blue-line partner Shea Weber. He leads the team in point-shares at 4.4 (point-shares is a debatable, but interesting metric that attempts to apply value to a player based on how many points he has likely contributed to the team in the standings... its like win-shares in baseball). He hasn't missed a game this year. In nearly all aspects of the game, he has been the most consistent and enjoyable player to watch on the ice for the Preds since October.
I'm calling it: ladies and gentlemen, your one and only 2016 Nashville Predators All-Star Selection will be Roman Josi.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'll just be out here
Reasons To Watch
- Because you can only watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens so many times in a day, right? I mean, the game starts at 7, so you could squeeze in at least 2 screenings before the puck drops.
- "Welcome to Whose Line Is It Anyway where the line combinations are made-up and the goals don't happen anyway!"
- Watch just to see what happens. It could be a disaster. It could be a surprising win. I really have no idea at this point. Your guess is as good as mine.
The Important Details
7PM Puck drop at the Bridge. FS-TN and 102.5 The Game will help you take it all in.