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The Weekender: How Good is Good?

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Predators are good this year, and they’re winning games even when they aren’t playing good (usually). When’s the last time Nashville is out-talenting the good teams? That’s what happened against Chicago. Granted, Chicago could’ve won that game if Patrick Kane didn’t have one of his worst games in recent memory. But between Pekka Rinne playing some very solid hockey, the power play getting it done, and the timely pressure the team applied during the second period, it’s two more points for the gold team. Chicago is still a good team, and it felt like Nashville had more talent on the ice. That may or may not be true, but it felt like Nashville took their foot off the gas and still won the game. The Vancouver game was odd, but you could feel that the team was coasting through part of the game and just “expected” to win it during the third period. That said, they hit the posts enough times to question celestial interference.

As a fanbase and a community, we’re not used to this. We’re not accustomed to a team that looks this confident and just “turns it on” when they have to. But that’s what this run is looking like. It won’t last forever, just because that’s hockey and that’s today’s NHL, but this doesn’t feel like the peak of this year’s team just yet. Only the top line and the fourth line are applying the pressure in the neutral zone we saw in the playoffs last year, which is to be expected. The playoffs don’t start in November. Playoff hockey is practically a different sport, and the old boxing saying “styles make fights” holds true.

It’s hard to poke at a team that’s not playing “as hard” as we saw them play last spring, especially with the tear they’ve been on. But when the team is still earning points with an improved team after playing deep into last season, all while not playing at their best... that should make you smile.

Ladies and gentlemen, Viktor Arvidsson.

The top line is playing some beautiful hockey, and the power play is still getting it done. It’s hard to point at any other direction.

Juuse Saros isn’t getting the playing time he needs. By the same token, Juuse Saros hasn’t earned a ton of playing time with his play up until the Carolina game. On Thursday Saros was sent down to the AHL and Lindback was called up from Milwaukee. In a perfect world, Lindback should get a couple of NHL starts while Saros gets his groove back. This organization has struggled to develop a goaltender for a long time. To be fair, they haven’t had to... but Pekka Rinne is approaching his last hurrah. More on this in a bit.

Also, let’s address a troubling issue: scoring chances. Nashville is giving up chances at even strength at an alarming rate. Currently, Nashville is only owning 46.72% of the high-danger chances this year. Last year, they were owning 51.91%. How about in 2014-15? 54.93%. We can pencil a lot of this having to do with Ryan Ellis, but it’s not like he’s played a full season the other years. We know Nashville can play better defense than what they’re showing, and play a form of defense that’s not just emulating a turtle.

“This guy is unbelievable,” Cherry said Saturday night during the Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada. “You people don’t understand. To me, he’s the most valuable player in the league. He stops more shots than anybody, he’s had more saves, he’s tied for the shutouts [lead], he sees more rubber than anybody.”

Take a deep breath, and imagine who Don Cherry is describing.

Take a guess. Take a second guess.

Any idea?

Frederik Andersen. Take a look.

Later in the same article (emphasis mine):

Coming into Saturday’s action, Andersen had faced a league-high 721 shots and his 662 saves also ranked tops in the league. Andersen is 14th in save percentage and 19th in goals-against average among goalies with at least 10 starts.

Who are the best (and most realistic) trade deadline targets for the Preds, should GMDP decide to make a move?

And, what would it likely cost the Preds to obtain them?


Backup goalies can be acquired for the right price during the spring. If Pekka Rinne gets hurt, Nashville would need a surreal performance from Juuse Saros & Anders Lindback to get anywhere close to where they want to end their season. A better plan would be getting a veteran backup that Nashville’s system can trust. Or if Nashville wants to look at being very ambitious, they should keep an eye on Detroit’s goaltending situation.

Who's your favorite Dan other than yourself?


My answer is Dan Bradley, the guy who developed special effects solutions for movies such as The Bourne Ultimatum, The Dark Knight, and others. The “Go-Mobile” was a very innovative idea, and adds a lot of movie car chases.

What nickname should be given to Nashville FC?

In the tradition of Reds, Spurs, etc…


That’s a great question. I don’t have the first idea, but I do know this: we need to support the hell out of the USL club. We found out on Friday that Nashville is among the four finalists for the two MLS expansion franchises. The one thing Nashville doesn’t have that Detroit, Cincinnati, and Sacramento all have is a passionate support of their existing franchise. That’s why I am skeptical of the MLS franchise being awarded to Nashville based solely on our stadium plan. Sacramento and Cincinnati averaged 11,569 and 21,199 per game this year in the USL. Detroit City FC has averaged over 5k a game for their NPSL team. If I’m being perfectly honest, it would say a lot about the MLS to award a franchise to Nashville over those markets. If a shiny stadium plan is more important to the MLS than existing tangible support, the folks outside of Nashville have a right to question us.

Regardless of the outcome of the MLS expansion verdict, let’s support Nashville SC. They’re wearing the correct colors.

[Editor’s note: Here’s a link to their season ticket page, if you’re interested. Tickets start at only $11 a game, but you can get “sideline seats” (down the 1st base line at First Tennessee Park) for only $26 a game, which looks like a great deal to me.]

What is the best little known

deli sandwich shop in the city? I’m looking for a really good reuben sandwich.


Since Sub Stop closed, I’m at a bit of a loss. As someone with strong Florida ties, I have a default answer for any question like this: Publix. PubSubs are a part of the culture. Headed to the beach? Stop by Publix for an Ultimate on Multigrain. Are you tailgating before the big game? Swing by Publix near campus for a Chicken Tender Sub, and ask for that badass Boar’s Head honey mustard. I’m sure that the older native Floridians (they exist) have a picture of George Jenkins in their homes.

Should the Penguins be removed from the league due to their proximity to Penn State?

And can Vol twitter make that happen?


Penn State is in a weird place. Both Philly and Pittsburgh can deny their ties to Penn State when convenient to do so. While it felt great to beat Chicago on Tuesday night, even though the Preds played poorly for the most of it, beating Pittsburgh is the new heart’s desire for this fanbase. That’s a good goal to have. The team agrees with the majority of the fans that there’s unfinished business there, and that’s some great motivation.

Q: Are Vol fans the worst or the best?

I love the dialogue amongst the talking heads…. "Vol fans have too much power!"… Or is it "Vol fans stood up for something and weren’t going to take it!".


They’re somewhere in between. I’m all for fans speaking up against a hire that most everyone knew would be a bad fit. Tennessee needs an ace recruiter, someone to develop a quarterback, someone who can talk in front of a microphone, and someone who isn’t going to embarrass the university. That wasn’t Greg Schiano. Sadly for them, the best choice for them is now the head ball coach in Gainesville, Florida. I’m of the opinion that Dan Mullen was taken for granted by the rest of the SEC media. No one goes to Starkville to be the head coach and comes out clean on the other side... no one except Darrell K. Royal (who left after a year) and Dan Mullen. And unlike every other coach before him at Mississippi State, Dan Mullen built the program up.

I’m sure folks were upset over the Schiano hire for many reasons, but let’s settle on this: when it comes to the allegations, Greg Schiano isn’t good enough of a coach to defend. With that said, it’s not fair to him to have “maybe” attached to his name going forward, as he didn’t have his day in court. If Tennessee hires someone with a clean record like Dave Doeren and the fans still throw a tantrum, then you can call them the worst. You can’t act high and mighty and tout your protest over the Schiano hire having to do with his time at Penn State and not his record as a head coach, then turn around and throw a fit about Dave Doeren for football reasons. Sure, fans can protest. But don’t act like there isn’t a consequence with your actions.

I really want to know what would happen if Vol twitter turned their ire on Gary Bettman and the Penguins

Pick whatever pretext you want.


We got a small tasting of this, right as NBC’s coverage from Nashville ended. (NSFW)

What is the solution in Edmonton? Does the team have a fitting leadership group internally?

Laura C

The Oilers like to play fast, that’s known. They don’t have the defense for it, and they don’t have the supporting cast for it. If there is a solution that would make sense for the roster, chances are it would sting a little. I mentioned this last week, but a trade for a player like Shea Weber wouldn’t be a horrible idea for the Oilers. It helps take some of the pressure off of Connor McDavid in the media, add some stability to the Oilers defense, and add a strong voice to the locker room. Plus, the Habs need a centre. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins isn’t a pure 1C, but he’s close enough to make this viable. For Shea’s sake, I’d love to see him succeed in Montreal. I just don’t trust the Montreal management to build a kind of team that can win it all. Edmonton will have (or already has) the best player in the NHL.

  • The Predators are 6-0-1 in their last 7 games against Chicago. And that “1” was pretty sketchy. Ryan Johansen once again posted a great shot attempts ratio against Jonathan Toews (73%). There’s no truth to the rumors saying the NHL pushing Johansen to enter a custodial agreement over Toews, but we’ll keep you posted.
  • When the Predators need a goal, the top line turns up the pressure. I don’t remember a Predators team that enjoys pinning teams into their own zone more than this one. The Johansen line is making their own chances by harassing defensemen trying to leave their defensive zone. It’s a battle plan worthy of the great generals of American history; create as much chaos for your opponent as you can. George Washington, George Patton, and Nolan Richardson would all be proud.
  • The Ducks traded Sami Vatanen for Adam Henrique, which helps their strength down the middle. The Devils get a mobile defenseman than can mature further in their young lineup, but the Ducks side of this is more intriguing. Anaheim is married to their old core of Getzlaf, Perry, and Kesler... but two of those guys are hurt. Henrique is a good stop-gap for a Ducks team that needs some positive traction, and he’s signed through the 2018-19 season. At the very worst, Henrique can be flipped at the deadline this year or next to augment a team that’s in need of some quality youth. I doubt that will happen, but the Ducks have some options even if they miss the mark this year. Their underlying numbers aren’t pretty.
  • Since we’re all concerned with center depth these days (rightfully so), let’s talk about Vegas. In an expansion draft held in 2017, a team picked up William Karlsson, Cody Eakin, and Jonathan Marchessault. Karlsson is 24, Marchessault scored 30 goals last year, and Eakin was a top 6 center for a good chunk of the year for Dallas over the last two years (even with Spezza and Seguin on the roster). That’s not a murderer’s row, but there were plenty of years we would’ve taken those three players over our own centers in Nashville.
  • I may be alone in this, but there’s a bit of psychology involved with playing your backup goaltender. When faced with a back to back, do you play your backup against the better team to protect your team’s confidence... or play your backup against the lesser team? I ask this because Nashville has faced Tristan Jarry and Anton Forsberg against Pittsburgh & Chicago at home. Laviolette has rolled out Saros on tougher road games before too. We see NBA teams resting players in tougher regular season matchups, especially with the Spurs. I’m willing to bet some of this is creeping into the NHL with goaltenders.

On to the next one.