Common wisdom in hockey says that the key to winning games consistently is possessing the puck more than your opponent. While some challenge the merit behind some of the fancy stats like zone start percentage and relative possession numbers, particularly those relating to linemates and opposition, it's impossible the deny the logic that puck possession can help you win games.
When you own the puck, your opponent does not. When you own the puck, you have more chances to score than your opponent (unless you are Vancouver). When you own the puck, your goalie has to work less than the opposing goalie.
Seven games into the season, the Predators are not only not owning the puck more than the opponent, they have been extremely ineffective at scoring with it.
Here are the bottom five teams in the NHL (through Thursday) in terms of puck possession.
|Detroit Red Wings||8||278||343||44.77|
|New York Islanders||8||346||404||46.13|
Interestingly, two of those bottom five teams, Detroit and Minnesota, have had fantastic starts. That's because they are doing a lot more with the puck when they have it.
But there are the Predators... 4th worst in the league in even strength puck possession. This is not something we are used to seeing. Typically, a Laviolette coached Predators team is near the top of the league in even strength puck possession.
And now the kicker: here are the bottom five teams (through Thursday) in terms of shooting the puck:
|New Jersey Devils||6||4.14|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||6||5.34|
|Los Angeles Kings||7||5.78|
Second to last in the entire league.
Keep in mind, no team's regular season is built on the foundation of a single seven game stretch. That's less than 10% of the season. There's really no reason to panic.
But after the preseason expectations and exciting offseason acquisitions, it's not inappropriate to explore a little bit. To pinpoint some reasons for this rough start. To glance in the mirror real quick and see what's up.
It's also important to point out that these are merely symptoms, not diagnoses. The reasons for these poor numbers could be numerous: injury/illness concerns, chemistry with new linemates, young guys in new roles, just to name a few.
Either way, I don't think anyone thinks this team isn't built to compete for a championship. This team has a mighty powerful engine that is primed to perform. But sometimes its important to glance under the hood to see what's making that god-awful noise.