OTF Q&A: Two Weeks In

Our beloved hockey team is raising all kinds of questions about their play. We try to answer your happy questions, for a change.

Try to hold your enthusiasm in check for a while. We're going to try to help you through this.

Jeremy: I will break it down to 50% coaching, 25% defense and 25% goaltending. Pekka Rinne has returned to form of a few years back and his glove hand is strong. The defense is exceptional. As one commenter said earlier this week, some teams would have our third pairing on their top defensive pairing if they were available. But it is the deployment of this talent that makes the difference. The new system is stifling to other teams and our ability to press teams into their own offensive zone has allowed for more shots on net and continued pressure away from our net. It's a new way of doing things in Nashville and it stems from the coaching staff willing to play puck possession hockey and relentless attack; a far cry from the last few years under Coach Trotz (still an early sample size though).

George: The answer is "(d) all of the above." We're still dealing with a limited sample, but the increase in Nashville's Corsi% during 5-on-5 play suggests that they're doing more with the puck when they have it. They're not playing down opponents' throats every night, as negative SOG differentials show, but the uptick in offensive productivity with the puck suggests they're simply playing more in the offensive zone than they did last year. Add in healthy Pekka Rinne, and a couple of world-class defensive pairings, and it's hard to give credit to one single aspect of the new system.

Dan: The defensemen. Having 7 competent and confident defensemen forging 3 pairings that can play type of ES minutes allow the forwards to press more which clogs up the neutral zone and keeps shots away from the net. Plus, having multiple puck-moving defensemen acts like a security blanket for the offense, allowing for more offensive possession time.

Alex: Pekka has been a huge reason for the nice start defensively, but I think most of the credit goes to the defense. With all three pairings playing well, our defensive depth is incredible. Ryan Ellis and Seth Jones both already have highlight reel saves on the season. The offense deserves some credit as well, as their pressure has allowed the defense (especially Weber) to stay at home more than they did all of last year.

Jeremy: For the Coyotes...a "dry" martini of course. For the Blackhawks, you better keep it local with a Black Abbey or a Jackalope beer...none of that Old Style swill. For the Penguins, you need to toast two things. Hornqvist and Spaling should be heralded with a raise of overpriced beer at the game. If the Predators continue their winning ways, raise a glass at the end of the game of the expensive bubbly while donning your feather boa and admiring the staggering visage of the Nature Boy Heel James Neal bobblehead you receive at the game (and Lord willing a regulation win).

George: Arizona: Sex with an Alligator, because that's how Don Maloney must feel after paying for Mike Ribeiro to have such a big game for the Preds against the Coyotes. Chicago: whatever Patrick Kane had that night he decided it would be a good idea to punch a cab driver. Pittsburgh: anything that will put hair on your chest or on Sidney Crosby's upper lip.

Dan: Does a golfer use the same club for every shot? No. On Tuesday I hope you went with something satisfying like fall beer to enjoy the Coyotes game, because it's mid-week hockey. On Thursday I would recommend your favorite type of cinnamon whiskey/whisky/bourbon- it will do the job, and double as pepper spray when spewed at a belligerent midwesterner. On Saturday, start your day with a bloody mary, pregame with a Jägerbomb, then finish it with some high-priced spirit on the rocks as part of your postgame so you can wink and glare at people in your suit on James Neal bobblehead night (with said bobblehead in clear view).

Alex: At the Blackhawks game Thursday night, you should choose a local craft brew like Blackstone or Yazoo to show off your impressive ability to not drink bad beer. And at the Pittsburgh game? Well, you should do the exact same thing. Stop drinking bad, non-local beer already.

Jeremy: Orbit Bubblemint. Just cause.

George: That's not actually gum. It's the cartilage of his mortal enemies.

Dan: After learning that Lavy commutes from Williamson County, it's logical to conclude he's a Costco guy. It has to be some type of extra flavored gum. The man does go through some gum. I'm disappointed none of our #OfficialOnlineMedia has came through on a question just yet.

Alex: He chews Extra Desert Delights Apple Pie because he is an American.

Tom Douglass The kind of question only a fan raised on a steady diet of #grit could ask: any concern that the team can't continue to play at this pace for 82 games? They've consistently looked like the faster and higher effort team in games this year, and hope they can keep that up.

Jeremy: I am worried about that myself. The eye test would make one think we are undefeated in regulation because of luck, but our PDO is nothing out of the ordinary at around 101. The first three games looked like the Predators maintained that high level of speed and tenacity. Lately, the Predators have moments of being pinned in their zone too often for way too long. Also, some discipline issues have disrupted the flow of the game with penalties accounting for players having to up their minutes to cover for the PK. Conditioning will be key to the Predators maintaining this exciting new offensive system and with the team winning 10 out of a possible 12 points has to be a boost.

George: I disagree that they've consistently looked like the higher effort team. That said, it's always a concern that a team can maintain a level of play or chemistry. Injury and illness bite without warning or permission, chemistry fades in and out as individual attitudes change, etc. I'm more concerned at this point with getting various aspects of the system going *cough*powerplay*cough* than I am about the team maintaining its current level of play.

Dan: I'm not sure if there's any more destructive way to play than to ask your forwards to chase pucks and absorb hits from defensemen every time up and down the ice. Remember the lockout year? Wilson and Hornqvist had shoulder injuries on back to back nights. Instead, this is a much more patient form of offense. I like Nashville's odds on keeping this style up.

Alex: I certainly hope they can do more than just keep it up. They need to improve in a lot of ways, most notably the power-play. If they can't keep it up, the season is over by January. If they keep it up AND improve in certain areas, we could be looking at an historic team on Broadway.

Coach-Seth Luttrell Realistic trade possibilities for the 1C saga

Jeremy: I don't think trading for a 1C is a possibility. Most teams aren't willing to trade their 1C and Nashville doesn't really have the players that teams would want for their 1C. It will come down to developing our own 1C. Maybe Forsberg or Jarnkrok can become what we need. Ribeiro, so far, is like having a 1/2C FWIW.

George: We'll have to see how or if the assets currently on our roster develop under Laviolette. This debate is moot if we have nothing in the can that another team will want.

Dan: Frankly, I'm sure not sure any team is willing to give up a 1C these days in a trade that doesn't resemble the Herschel Walker to the Vikings trade. Looking to expiring contracts, I'd be interested in Montreal decided to be proactive with their cap situation for next year. If Nashville wanted to buy a proven guy, Eric Staal is technically a 1C. But... that's paying over $18 million US Dollars for 2 years to an Eric Staal who may have already crested in his career and no guarantee he'll be in Nashville past that point.

Alex: I don't see any trade possibilities at this point. It's just too early. And with the stockpile of talent we have in the club right now, combined with the long term veteran contracts just recently completed, I think any trade would be unwise. Also, don't forget about Mike Fisher. He is no 1C, but his return (whenever that is) will be like a midseason trade.

Marty Allen I'm wondering how much of an impact Stahlberg can make ? Would be huge if he can step up.

Jeremy: Ugh. Stalberg and Wilson are the two names that cause so much angst in the Sargent household. Both have amazing potential but have never and it seems will never live up to it. I try to focus on Stalberg's amazing speed but he can't finish...ever. He is a third/fourth liner at best and maybe his speed and set up ability will bring him back into my good graces, but I'm not holding my breath (like I have for five years on Wilson).

George: I think people expect too much out of I-can't-score-berg. He's a 3rd line winger. He's a really fast one, but he's a 3rd line winger. Blackhawks fans have often derided him for taking shifts off and having cement hands. That holds true anecdotally in his time in Nashville, and his best season scoring totals (22G, 21A in 2011-2012) at this level seem like an anomaly next to the rest of his career stats. If he could step up or respond to a new coach in ways he never has in his career, then yes, that would be huge. But in the immortal words of Clark W. Griswold, "if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be any more surprised" than I would be if Stalberg all of a sudden became a scoring threat for Nashville.

Dan: I wonder too. Up until this point, Stahlberg hasn't done much. However, Viktor Stalberg does give NSH something different on their third line which might open up some shooting space for the crafty gorgeous one, Olli Jokinen. If nothing else, Stalberg gives Järnkork someone else to pass to.

Alex: It's not unrealistic to expect him to contribute. Lavy will find a way... Maybe there is a connection between Stalberg and one of the young guys like Bourque or Jarnkrok. After that, maybe he finds his scoring touch and starts producing some nice goals for the 2nd or 3rd lines? Or maybe some time on the penalty kill is the trick? Ok, maybe not.

James Withrow Is this a playoff team?

Jeremy: Right now, we would be a good spoiler in the first round of the playoffs as a low seed. Still too few games to make a great case for the Predators in the long run of knowing if they are after six games. Fingers crossed though.

George: *puts hand over eyes, tosses dart at side of barn*

Dan: I would tell you "ask us next time", but then I'd tell you ask "ask us next time" again. And again. Until February.

Alex: As long as the playoffs begin in November.

What do you think?

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