The Predators faced off against the Oilers at Rogers Place just one week ago. Those fans that braved the Great White North were rewarded with unseasonably warm weather and a 3-0 shutout. There weren’t many, but the Preds’ stellar social media team spotted a few unicorns...
Infinitely more exciting than the game was the post-game, where Peter Laviolette did his best Bodacious impression.
The only injuries caused, however, were to the Oilers’ confidence. They were riding a three game winning streak, and it came to an unceremonious end. Since then, they’ve gone 1-0-1, so they recovered quickly enough—on Thursday they took down the defending champs, defeating the Capitals 4-1. We’ll soon find out whether that high will dissipate when faced with a team they have lost 13 straight to...
The Edmonton McDavids have leaned extremely heavily on their young phenom. It’s no surprise given the 12.5 million dollar cap hit McDavid comes with, a whopping 1.5 million more than the closest competition (John Tavares, if you’re curious). He leads the league in TOI for a forward, clocking in at an astounding 24:09 per game, which would be the highest number seen in five years if it remains at season end.
With almost 17% of the cap sunk into McDavid, and another 10% allocated to Leon Draisaitl, it’s no surprise the depth of this team is severely lacking. The Oilers’ top three point producer list also includes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has always been a solid contributor, though nowhere near the point-per-game (and beyond) pace of McDavid and Draisaitl. But folks, after those three, the cupboard is bare. Seven Oilers are tied for 4th place—and they each have three points. It’s pretty easy to see why McDavid spends so much time on the ice.
Manning the net is Rangers cast-off and clothing empire heir Cam Talbot. Coming off a dreadful season in which his GAA was north of the Mendoza Line (because I assume there is one in every sport) at 3.02, he’s off to an extremely sub-par start to this year. But with backup option Mikko Koskinen having led his team to the frozen sheet only four times in (ancient) history, it’s unlikely he makes his first appearance against a team Edmonton surely desires to beat.
Halfway through the San Jose Sharks game, the Predators were leading 4-2 and on their way to an 8-1 start. Except they stopped playing, because we can’t have nice things, and they ended up dropping the game 5-4. They rebounded nicely in New Jersey two nights ago, with Kyle Turris netting an overtime winner to force the Devils to settle for just a solitary point.
Aside from Kyle Turris, who is off to a nice start despite the disappearing act of apparent magician Kevin Fiala, there are a few other players with strong offensive numbers. Mattias Ekholm, always an underrated puck mover, leads all d-men with 8 points, and he doesn’t get any power play TOI. Though for those of us that have had the misfortune of watching the Predators try the same ineffective maneuvering, leading to very little special teams success, we know that time really hasn’t made a huge difference. P.K. Subban and Ryan Ellis have similarly contributed nicely to the team’s offensive game, though perhaps this is at the expense of defense, as lapses have plagued our top blueliners all too often.
I’m a big proponent of saving the best for last. And the best is JOFA. Not just on the team, but quite possibly in the league. Here’s what they do:
Ryan Johansen has been the consummate mailman—distributing passes left and right to Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson (who has only had one good season), which they have not wasted time putting in the net. Both have seven goals, putting both in a position to crack 40 goals by year’s end. This top line’s mastery is certainly most exciting to watch, and is the most directly responsible for putting the Predators in first place in the Central, and tops in the league.
In goal, we will likely see Juuse Saros again, though Pekka Rinne did skate yesterday for the first time since landing on IR. The coaching staff has indicated Rinne’s injury is not long-term, and it is possible we see him today, but if not, we will have no fear with the Little Bear leading the way. He’s got to be the best backup netminder in the league. The Preds haven’t lost a stride since Rinne went down, and I don’t anticipate any faltering should Rinne’s injury linger.
Reasons to Watch
14-0 anyone? I had a 14 game winning streak once in a Magic: The Gathering tournament years back. This is much more exciting.
Also, it’s afternoon hockey. What’s better than that?
Preds-Oilers WWE Feud Equivalent
In honor of the WWE’s all-female PPV, Evolution, airing this Sunday, and the Preds’ recent success against the Oilers, I’ll go with one of the most one-sided feuds of all-time. In 2012, Kharma made a big splash by entering the typically male-dominated Royal Rumble. She proceeded to quickly eliminate Michael Cole, who didn’t really stand a chance. Expect the Predators to give the Oilers the same treatment.
How to Watch
102.5 for the radio call
FS-TN on TV
Bridgestone Arena for live viewing