The Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars will renew acquaintances once again. Dallas is coming off a questionable trade deadline move and overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings, while the Predators have decided to keep their team intact and storm into the final stretch riding their hot streak.
The Dallas Stars
Jim Nill has made so many good decisions as the general manager of the Stars. He took advantage of Boston unloading Tyler Seguin, brought in Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp, even tried his best to give them some sort of defense with Johnny Oduya while John Klingberg develops into a legit player.
So it's puzzling when, in order to shore up their defensive depth, he acquires one of the worst defensemen on the market. Kris Russell's claim to fame is being able to block a ton of shots, which he does because shots are always going toward his goaltender. His CF% on the Flames this season is an awful 43.62 at even strength, and he somehow manages to be about 5.5% worse relative to his already crappy former team.
And they gave up two prospects (one forward, one defensemen) and a 2nd round pick that could turn into a first round pick. Want to get an idea how bad this deal is? Compare Russell's rate stats and possession numbers with that of Barret Jackman over the past three years:
Dallas may still win the division, they may not. What's important is that not only do they not change from being an offensive juggernaut with suspect defense and questionable goaltending, now they bring an a player that puts an even bigger question mark on over them.
Should be a fun run to end the season.
The Nashville Predators
How much longer can Filip Forsberg keep it up?
Hopefully a while, but he's now shooting almost 13% at even strength on the campaign and 18% since January 8th. Comparing that to just over 11% over the entirety of last year, and it's fair to expect some drop off from the ridiculous pace he's been on over the last couple of weeks.
But that's not to say he's going to completely hit a wall. In fact, his line with Craig Smith and Mike Ribeiro are playing some wonderful hockey right now. Yes, their shooting percentage is high, but nearly 60% of all shot attempts they take are going on the opponents net. So they may hit a wall over the next few games, but the scoring will eventually normalize.
Speaking of hitting a wall, the first line of Ryan Johansen, James Neal and Calle Jarnkrok aren't nearly doing as well. Via the brand new corsica.hockey, the trio sits just below the even possession mark, and aren't generating shot attempts at near the rate the Ribeiro line is. It makes sense, because Forsberg and Smith are primarily going to try and shoot the puck, while Neal is the only one on his line with that mentality.
Still, in order to start scoring rubber needs to get put on net. It's been six games since the line has recorded a point with each other, and the Prince isn't going to be carrying the team forever. Against a high octane team like Dallas, all hands need to be on deck.
Nothing relevant on this one. Just been listening to this song a lot lately.
Reasons to Watch
- The last meeting between these two was a thriller. Does Nashville bring that same intensity or are they going to start falling off?
- The Kris Russell era is begun. Let's see what he brings and if those question marks inflate ever so slightly.
- Despite Nashville's point and win streak, the only game that was truly a show of skill was Saturday's victory over the St. Louis Blues. Middling efforts against the Canadiens and Maple Leafs did not impress, and the game against Chicago is a loss nine times out of 10. Pekka Rinne has been fabulous, and no one is going to argue with banking points. However, now it's time to start playing a game that nets wins when compared to a four-game series. Nashville still has a lot to prove on that front.
Sights and Sounds
Normal 7 p.m. puck drop at Bridgestone Arena tonight. Tune into FS-TN and 102.5 The Game.