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Nashville Predators 3, Vancouver Canucks 5: Although We’ve Come To The End of The Road (Trip)

The Narrative

I’m going to do this just a bit differently than usual.  I’m going to do my usual chart breakdown here instead of twitter.  As always, you can find these charts here on my Tableau.

The difference was on special teams.  After a dismal first period at 5 on 5, the Predators turned things around and looked great the rest of the way.  They had more shot attempts, shots on goal, high-danger chances and better shot quality (expected goals), and Pekka Rinne did fine at even strength.

The penalty kill was an issue.  Vancouver only managed 0.53 expected goals, yet they scored three times.  Not great at all – and while they benefited from questionable calls and lucky bounces, this isn’t the PK we’re used to seeing.  Dan Hamhuis specifically was pretty awful on the unit.

The bottom line started the game strong, but slowly got beaten – Austin Watson had a pretty terrible game all around.  The top six, however, started looking like the top six we’ve been hoping for.  I doubted Järnkrok again this evening, and he proved me wrong.  Filip Forsberg is making the turn this season into the elite player we thought he’d be.  You can mark me down.

Nashville made in-game adjustments (really a credit to the entire coaching staff) as they moved towards making controlled entries into the offensive zone and passes out of the defense zone.  They matched Vancouver’s pace in the second and third period, and it showed on the score sheet and on these charts.  Even Tanner Pearson and Elias Petterson had negative on-ice metrics, as the Canucks were held to just one 5-on-5 goal.

Nashville has a top six again, at least for tonight.  Brandon Sutter went off early (which is a shame, because he’s not very good and you hate to see injuries), so Vancouver had to adjust.  Watson-Sissons-Turris started the game very strong, but struggled down the stretch, while we saw Nick Bonino’s line perform like an actual third line.  I think Craig Smith is close to snapping out of his cold streak too.

The above are another visual representation of the individual metrics I’ve already displayed.  The Nashville Predators played a great game at 5 on 5, they scored on the power play, and Forsberg willed them back into the game all by himself.  The Predators seem to miss out on one phase of the game in their losses (save the disaster in Denver), and tonight, unfortunately, it was the penalty kill against a team who excels on the power play.

Luckily, the CMAs are tomorrow (if that’s something you care about), and the Predators are heading home.  I’m not mad, but I’m also not disappointed TOO badly.  There are some good trends happening – so even if it seems like the sky is falling, don’t worry.

Game Notes

  • First Period: Vancouver off to a very fast start in transition
  • Man they are fast, really pushing Nashville in the neutral zone
  • PEKKA with a great save on what I thought was an open net – I hope he stays this hot
  • Yannick Weber with ANOTHER controlled zone exit – that’s three I’ve seen this season.  Pigs are flying!
  • Rocco Grimaldi is also getting controlled entries, but he’s getting muscled off the puck in the OZ – very Kevin Fiala-esque
  • Second three-on-two break by Vancouver and great defense by Dante Fabbro – notice he got low to take away the shot but stayed on his feet.  You don’t have to go to the ice!
  • Forsberg drove around the net and had a GORGEOUS backhand pass across the slot to Josi that resulted in a shot on goal.
  • Forsberg making plays, great defense in the DZ, clears the puck
  • 9:10 left and I think that’s the fourth 3-on-2 against Nashville
  • First power play is not very good.  I like Ryan Johansen taking some time quarterbacking at the blue line, but results in one shot attempt, no shots on goal.  Duchene has a costly turnover, but Pekka Rinne saves the breakaway
  • Dante Fabbro with a miserable sequence that ends with a penalty for holding and we’ll start the second on the kill
  • Second Period: And just like that, the defense switch from Ryan Ellis to Viktor Arvidsson just bombs and Pearson gets it home
  • Nashville has clearly made an adjustment in the neutral zone – I don’t think I’ve seen a single dump into the offensive zone, they’re carrying everything in
  • Willy just mentioned the Nick Bonino–Rocco Grimaldi–Craig Smith line and their on-ice Corsi For percentage and Expected Goal percentage at 5 on 5.  Advanced stats?  In MY broadcast?  Be still my heart
  • Two breakaways by Nashville, neither results in a goal – Mikael Granlund just can’t get a goal to save his life
  • Nashville is flying up and down the ice
  • THE IRON HOOK – what a play by Matt Duchene to enter the zone and Calle Järnkrok cleans it up
  • Willy directly cites Natural Stat Trick.  I’m a very happy man
  • Ellis has another bad pass intercepted
  • Josi is such a great skater
  • Third Period: Nashville has completely turned this game around to tie it at one, can they keep it up?
  • A garbage call on Ekholm, and yet another power play goal by the Canucks, Elias Petterson this time
  • Oh no, goal awarded to Filip Forsberg
  • Another questionable penalty, another PP goal, that’s three from Vancouver—this time Adam Gaudette
  • Rinne has trouble with the rebound again, Petterson finds the net again. 4-2 Vancouver
  • 8 minutes left, but I don’t think they’re out of this one, honestly.
  • Predators get a call FINALLY, and head to the PP – (Weak penalties getting called all night, man)
  • Good chance by the second unit and Thatcher Demko makes a good save
  • First unit comes on, gets good movement but Duchene loses it temporarily
  • Ekholm tries valiantly to carry the puck out—something he’s struggled with—and it doesn’t work
  • Immediately turns around into an odd-man rush and Vancouver misses the net
  • Just like to remind everyone that Thatcher Demko is not a real name
  • Granlund and Forsberg with superhuman efforts, but nothing doing.  Three minutes left
  • 2:19 left, the Preds are hustling with the puck
  • Pekka is off the ice with two minutes.  I like the aggressiveness.  Please just put him back on if there’s a faceoff
  • Great, great movement, and we’re down to 1:17 down one goal
  • Oh no, empty net on the faceoff
  • Great play by Johansen to keep it alive
  • Six players, and Filip and Joey pass back and forth and nearly lose it.  32 seconds left
  • And there it is, empty net goal after a valiant effort and that’ll do it.  Pearson gets his second of the night./

Stars of The Night

  1. Filip Forsberg – You gorgeous Swedish prince, you wonderful, magical man.  You have all read my stuff enough to know how much I think he’s going to take over this season, and we’re seeing it. Bear witness.
  2. Ryan Johansen – He has been quiet this season, relatively speaking, but he played hard tonight.  He and Forsberg were the only Preds with two high-danger chances and he made some phenomenal plays on the power plays at the end of the game
  3. Willy Daunic, Chris Mason and Fox Sports Tennessee – They referenced NaturalStatTrick.com, they used Corsi For and Expected Goal percentages, and they even specified game state (5 on 5).  I’m on cloud nine, folks.

Tweets of the Night

This one is unrelated to the game, but thankfully my friend K clarified things right as I saw the trends and nearly had a heart attack.

Game Videos

Talking Points