Saturday was pretty ugly, huh? There was a lot of talk after the 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings that it was a “better effort” than Thursday against Calgary. While that may be true, it’s no comfort. The important thing here is that we call this stretch of mediocre hockey what it is but don’t overreact. Yes, this team doesn’t lose back-to-back in regulation often, but it’s an 82 game season and its still February.
If we do want to be critical, let’s be specific. This tweet struck me the other night
Red Wings had 26 shot blocks on the #Preds. Shows that Detroit did a great job of getting in the shooting lanes, and the Preds need to do a better job of getting the puck to open players to take a good, clean shot on net.— Justin Bradford (@justinbbradford) February 18, 2018
My initial response when reading this is said for me in the first reply. If you've watched this team for even one minute this season, it’s obvious how reliant they are on perimeter shooting. Yes, the Preds offensive production from the blueline is not a luxury most teams have, but it’s still concerning. The below graphic will serve as my rationale for acquiring Rick Nash, Gustav Nyquist, or someone similar at the deadline.
Another notable problem is the team’s powerplay struggles. I don’t need much to explain why they haven’t scored on any of their last 21 attempts. The dark green in the high-danger slot below is...rather atrocious:
I’m not overwhelmingly concerned. The team’s powerplay success is still fifth in the league, but tonight would be a great time for both units to get going as the Ottawa Senators and their 29th ranked penalty kill come to town.
The Ottawa Senators
The Senators come to town with a 21-27-9 record good for 51 points and 14th in the East. They’ve gone 6-4-0 in their last ten which is respectable (and similar to the Preds), but by all accounts this team is bad.
Aside from their horribly negative goal differential, this team frequently gets caved in possession-wise. Their 46.75 Corsi For% is only better than Minnesota and the Rangers. But, the Preds have been playing rather down to their competition lately so none of this probably matters.
Since the last time these two met, the Senators shipped Dion Phaneuf and Nate Thompson to Los Angeles for Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore. This week could see more Sens on the move as Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith, and Erik Karlsson are all rumored to be traded amongst others.
Craig Anderson is the unconfirmed started for the Sens tonight.
The Preds look to avoid dropping three straight tonight in the first half of a back-to-back. Laviolette has been mixing the lines up a bit lately, but we should see a return to JOFA and Fiala-Turris-Smith tonight. On defense, expect both Yannick Weber and Alexei Emelin to draw back in after Bitetto and Irwin went against Detroit.
This is a pretty critical week for this team. Seven days out from the trade deadline, Poile will be busy in the midst of four games (including traveling to Detroit tonight after the game). On Thursday comes San Jose which is no cake walk. But, Sunday is the big one: primetime against the Blues before heading out to Winnipeg. Tonight is a good chance to start off the week on a strong note.
Pekka Rinne is the unconfirmed started.
Reasons to Watch
- Recycling this from earlier in the season: Aren’t we always looking for something fun to do on a Monday night? I, for one, will be using the game to procrastinate homework.
- Mike Hoffman is really good and fun to watch and might be a Predator soon! Just kidding, he won’t but I can dream.
- I owe the Senators one. Picked up a Kyle Turris shirsey for $10 at the game a couple weeks ago against the Preds - thanks for not killing my bank account!
- There is still time to salvage Filbruary. We have to believe.
This shootout was fun. Plus, we can reminisce to the James Neal and Carter Hutton days.
Remember when they had Kyle Turris, but now we do?
Sights and Sounds
102.5 The Game has the radio call and FS-TN has the broadcast. Puck drop at 7:00 P.M. Central!