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Five-Hole Friday: Round One

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A new quick-read for your Friday. Here’s some hockey thoughts.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

While I’m not a statistics specialist, a play-by-play analyst, or a prospect expert, I’d like to present you with some hockey thoughts each Friday. I welcome thoughts, feedback, and questions!

Roman Josi Leading the D-Man Hustle

The captain is probably one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. My husband and I were able to snap photo with him on Tuesday while in the Lexus Lounge (more on that later). He was incredibly polite and patiently fielded photo and autograph requests from about 15 fans.

We watched a majority of the game right on the glass at the end of the tunnel where the players enter the ice before each period. When you’re that close, you really get a sense of how fast these guys skate.

I was absolutely dumbfounded by Roman Josi dancing around every Ottawa defender with the puck. The guy can MOVE. A few minutes later, I watched Mattias Ekholm do the exact same thing. It’s evident our defensemen have the ability to move around in the zone instead of simply patrolling the blue line.

St. Louis

At some point Tuesday, Twitter reacted to news from St. Louis that GM Doug Armstrong would be listening to trade offers for players.

This is after news late last week that Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo might be a trade target for teams seeking a mobile yet experienced defenseman.

St. Louis’s season is not going well at all. After signing some key players and pulling off a big trade with Buffalo for Ryan O’Reilly, the Blues have been consistently subpar in the first quarter of the season. A coaching switch hasn’t helped much.

While we can imagine what the Predators would look like with Vladimir Tarasenko in the lineup, we most certainly have to consider the price St. Louis would be seeking for their any of their big guns. The Predators have picks in each round of the 2019 NHL Draft, including an additional 4th-round pick from Colorado. With the slightly concerning lack of forward prospects, it might behoove Nashville’s management to just chill.

Eeli Tolvanen

Our friend Alex noted the following about young Tolvanen earlier this week:

It’s clear to us that Tolvanen is playing better hockey this season.

In an “eye test,” we’ve seen Tolvanen chase pucks into the corner and make plays off the boards. We’ve also seen him develop some chemistry with Craig Smith and Calle Järnkrok. He didn’t play a ton of minutes, but that’s expected. In his next recall, I’d expect Tolvanen to get looks aside Ryan Johansen or Kyle Turris.

Tolvanen was returned to Milwaukee on Thursday morning. This caused a bit of debate, but the reality is that Tolvanen needs top-6 minutes in the AHL in order to continue to improve. He’s like a good bourbon. You’ve got to age him a bit before he’s ready.

PS: The Admirals play the Texas Stars tonight at 7:00.

The Easy Button

The key word before Tuesday’s contest seemed to be “simple.” A few players expressed the need to get back to basics while injured Predators slowly return to the lineup. This Nashville play in the second period is a prime example of that “simple” mindset.

Here’s a breakdown: Josi and Ellis create some time along the blue line. Johansen sees Josi leaking down the boards on the right hand side and slides up toward the blue line on the left. Ellis is able to tap a quick pass to Josi, dance around a defender, and receive a perfectly placed puck at center ice. Ellis takes his shot about 15 feet away from Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson and buries it.

There was not too much of the “pass the puck until a shot lane opens up” play that we’ve seen recently. Ellis took it upon himself to find space and was rewarded.

An uncomplicated play like this would also be a good remedy for the struggling power play.

That was easy.

7Element

As I mentioned above, we had Lexus Lounge seats on Tuesday. We were able to enjoy these seats thanks to 7Element. 7Element is a veteran-led organization that serves veterans and first responders in the Middle Tennessee area. The organization provides no-cost access to hockey and 7E has hosted a few benefit games at Ford Ice Center.

Tonight, a game combining MTSU’s hockey club and 7Element players will be held at Ford Ice at 9:15. If you can, come out and support these vets and first responders.

As a veteran, helping out other veterans is something I am passionate about.

Finally, if you or someone you know has tickets to a Predators game that you cannot use, please consider donating these tickets to 7Element. Follow 7Element on Twitter (@7Element6) or hit me up to find out how (@_RKH80). Donated tickets go directly to veterans or first responders in the local area.

How the Preds Stole Christmas

Predators dressed as elves featuring Roman Josi as Max and Ryan Johansen as the Grinch. The photo you didn’t know you needed is right here.

Feel free to tell me what you want to hear about next week. All hockey-related topics are open for discussion and most non-hockey topics are also acceptable...excluding politics, eggnog, and your in-laws.