Since October 31st the Predators have had just one win out of eight games, including a November 12 5-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Yes, we are only a quarter of the way through a long season. Yes, they have the ability to play excellent hockey. Yes, it’s good that they have time to work these kinks out before playoffs. Yes, we know Kyle Turris is not the problem.
Here at OTF we are clinging to our calm. We meditate. We chant. We practice our sun salutation.
As we strive for serenity, let’s take a look at tonight’s matchup.
The Predators enter at the wrong end of a five-game skid. Neither Pekka Rinne nor Juuse Saros has a save percentage starting with the right number—Rinne’s .899, like a callback to an earlier decade, is still better than Saros’s .886, though Saros has been trending up lately. They’ve paired that uninspiring goaltending with a forgettable offense, averaging fewer than two goals a game over the last two weeks. The Wendy’s restaurants of the Middle Tennessee area have probably been rejoicing, but Preds fans have not.
Roman Josi’s 20 points lead the team, while Matt Duchene’s 16 are the best among forwards. Filip Forsberg and Nick Bonino are tied for the team lead in goals with nine each. Josi, Duchene, and Ryans Ellis and Johansen all have double-digits in assists.
Viktor Arvidsson is going through what feels like a little bit of a slump, but he’s actually shooting a very sustainable 13% right now—it would be nice to see him get some more shots on goal (he’s fourth on the team this year, behind Josi, Forsberg, and Mattias Ekholm). Kyle Turris, who hasn’t had the same linemates in a row for more than three games all season, is once again not having his best season, probably because he’s being grossly misused by the coaching staff. He spent last game and looks like he'll be spending this game in the press box, which is an even trickier place to score goals from than centering noted offensive dynamos Rocco Grimaldi and Austin Watson is.
The Canucks, like the Predators, have not been having a good month. They’ve also lost seven of their last eight, with their only win coming right in the middle—that 5-3 win over the Predators.
Thatcher Demko and Jacob Markström have been adequate for the Canucks in goal this season, with Demko’s .916 sv% beating Markström’s .906—but some days adequate is enough. Elias Pettersson leads the team in points with 25, while goalscoring leader Brock Boeser (9) and J.T. Miller join him in the over-20-points club. While Alexander Edler and Quinn Hughes have contributed on offense, the Canucks are not relying on their defenders to get all the goalscoring done.
The Canucks have been pretty solid both offensively and defensively, with Miller, Boeser, and Petterson fantastic at both ends of the ice. Their power play, while it’s scored a lot, doesn’t take a lot of shots and hasn’t gotten to the dangerous areas of the ice much this year; this could be good for the Predators, but it could also do some more bad things to their goalies’ save percentages.
All in all, the Canucks are a talented young team playing some good hockey and not getting results. Hopefully they keep that up for at least one more game.
The Predators need to reach deep and find whatever it is they need to get out of this slump. The team needs a win for more than the two points. They know they can do better than this, and so do we—this is their chance to make their play match their talent levels.
Usually we give you a song to get you hyped. Tonight we offer some music to help you find that inner peace.
How to Watch
Finish your personal curse-breaking rituals early because the puck drops at 7:00 PM tonight. You can watch the game on Fox Sports Tennessee and listen on 102.5 The Game.
Statistics from hockey-reference.com and background from hockeyviz.com.