With all of the pre-Christmas home games in the books, one last road trip remains for the Nashville Predators before the National Hockey League’s annual holiday roster freeze.
It’s a chance to reverse their recent road woes since their 8-0 start away from Bridgestone Arena. The Preds have not won a road game since that blistering start (0-5-1 since) and it’s kept the rest of the Central Division in shouting distance in the last month.
Games in Ottawa, Chicago, Philadelphia (could there be a coaching change before this game?) and Boston await before presents can be opened under the tree.
Before that, however, a quick look at last week’s results and a change-up later in this column, as well:
The Fast Money Round
Tuesday: Predators 3, Ottawa Senators 1
The Senators will be out for a measure of revenge on Monday after this loss in Nashville. Both teams’ injured lists would have iced a decent lineup, but the Preds’ depth was better. It was a bad start to the week, giving up a goal 26 seconds in, but it went uphill from there.
Thursday: Predators 4, Vancouver Canucks 3 (OT)
Giving up two shorthanded goals, giving up a two-goal lead, and giving up a goal with the extra attacker won’t win many games. However, the Predators’ much-improved approach in overtime managed to pull this one out. Overtime is more fun to watch when you can actually see the Preds scoring a goal in 3-on-3. That wasn’t the case the first couple of years of this format, as it used to be pretty much an automatic loss.
Saturday: Predators 2, New Jersey Devils 1
Man, Juuse Saros deserved that shutout. Again, giving up a 5-on-6 goal pushed things past 60 minutes. But it’s a good sign that the guys in front of Saros gave him a much better effort than in previous starts.
Player of the Week
Eight different Preds scored one goal this week. How’s that for balance? Meanwhile, Pekka Rinne and Saros did what had to be done to ensure a perfect week. I don’t like handing out co-players of the week, because I believe that’s a cop-out from a hard decision. In this case, however, it’s justified. The goaltending this week earned three wins and both of them deserve to be honored in this space. Father and son take the honors and apparently they can shoot hoops, too.
Favorite Things of the Week
Ryan Johansen as the Grinch is beyond hilarious...
The Grinch-Ryan Johansen collaboration you didn't know you neededhttps://t.co/gPtpqRT9Qm— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) December 13, 2018
Joey’s comic relief continues with a leaf blower (sound on)...
Meanwhile, in St. Louis, Barclay shows off his stickhandling and puck skills.
Concern of the Week
Despite the 3-0 week, there’s still some worry about the offense without Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and P.K. Subban (who did make the road trip with the team, so stay tuned). Still, the three teams Nashville defeated are not very good teams (Vancouver is talented, but backsliding quickly) and the road is about to get harder. You can feel better about this team after this week, though. They are showing the ability to stay above water while guys heal up.
Question(s) of the Week
New for this week, I reach into the mailbag and try to deliver answers to life’s deepest questions (or at least those that include hockey). They don’t all have to be Preds-related, either. Send questions to me on Twitter @CBrooksTN, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or even drop them into the comments below, and I’ll answer the best ones next week.
First one involves thoughts on possible moves by David Poile:
Ok, it’s early but I don’t want you bored...Where are the Preds underachieving and do you see a trade for help? If so, the likeliest to move.— Scott Burton (@edozedo) December 16, 2018
Aside from the obvious (*cough* power play) struggles, there hasn’t been any one player to put this team on his back and pack the scoring punch with Forsberg and Arvidsson still out. The balance is good (eight different Preds scored regulation or OT goals this week), but this team has a ceiling without 9 and 33 in the lineup. When they were healthy, four goals was the floor. Now, getting there in regulation is a massive chore.
It would not surprise me at all if GMDP made a move, but I can totally see him regarding Fil and Arvy’s impending returns as “deadline acquisitions” that will reignite the offense.
Throwing a dart on any possible move: Craig Smith, a prospect and a pick for extra help up front.
If Kyle Chandler’s in it, I’ll watch. That’s enough for me to watch Godzilla: King of the Monsters. I’m intrigued by Godzilla vs. Kong, too.
This week’s grade
I like the response from this team this past week. Getting Kyle Turris back is a step forward toward full health, though there’s still a long way to go before the full complement of weapons is at Peter Laviolette’s disposal. Giving up two goals when the other team has pulled its goaltender is concerning. Better finish in those situations is needed going forward. That, combined with two shorthanded goals allowed, puts a bit of a dent into an otherwise good week. This week’s grade: B+
Your turn: What record do the Preds need this week to consider the road trip a successful one?
Who’s your Player(s) of the Week for Week 10?
This poll is closed