The Week That Was: Week 1
Quick thoughts on the first five games, grading several things from the opening full week and one very good boy.
Since Saturday’s contest against the New York Islanders completes the first full week of the Nashville Predators’ schedule, this inaugural edition of (TW)2 (the week that was, or TWTW) will also include the two games of the New York trip.
Lots to dive into, so no wasting space on an introduction – stuff here will be self-explanatory.
The Fast Money Round
Oct. 4: Predators 3, New York Rangers 2
Gotta be honest here – I like beginning the season on the road. Sure, opening night is more fun at home, but from a team aspect, a season-starting road trip is good for chemistry and it’s a good test of facing a little adversity right off the bat. It’s all about the game and none of the pomp and circumstance.
Filip Forsberg scored the season’s first goal to begin his quest for 40 goals. Pekka Rinne looked like his Vezina Trophy-winning self and the Preds got out of Madison Square Garden with a solid first victory.
Oct. 6: Predators 4, New York Islanders 3
Depending on some circumstances with the Isles, this could have been the Preds’ last visit to Barclays Center.
Viktor Arvidsson notched his first two goals of the season and Juuse Saros had a solid game in the crease for his first victory. Craig Smith and Mattias Ekholm also tallied for the Preds, who left Long Island with a pair of wins over Eastern Conference foes.
Oct. 9: Calgary Flames 3, Predators 0
Remember what I said about beginning the season on the road? I am a believer that the glamour of the home opener can be very distracting. It’s just not the usual routine of a normal game because of the festivities. Believe what you want, but when you disrupt human nature, bad things can happen.
And Calgary made sure they did —namely Mike Smith— who conjured up nightmares of the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals. Arvy missed more than a full period of action after catching Roman Josi’s dump-in attempt in the face. That was a bad sign on the game’s first shift. Ekholm plays a 2-on-1 perfectly, but the puck bounces off his leg and past Rinne in the third period.
More banners were raised, which makes for nice decoration, but it wasn’t perfectly executed (see below).
Oct. 11: Predators 3, Winnipeg Jets 0
Getting a highly-anticipated playoff rematch this early was a blessing in disguise. Honestly, it was the perfect opponent to get over the Calgary loss.
Rinne added another shutout to his resume, Roman Josi and Ryan Johansen each added their first goals of the season, and Ryan Hartman continued his strong start by notching his first goal.
The Jets came in looking for a fight, got more than one, and lost them all. Mark Jan. 17 on the calendar — that’s the next time these two square off and it’s in Nashville, too.
Remember, kids, an ugly win always beats a pretty loss. That comparison is undefeated all-time.
Oct. 13: Predators 5, New York Islanders 2
The first period was really something. The second period was really something else. Then, the power play found a goal and people exhaled.
Saros wins the series over the Islanders, and if the workload can stay somewhere close to 60-40 in favor of Rinne, things look good moving forward.
Player of the Week
Ryan Hartman and Viktor Arvidsson were tight in the running, but I’m giving the nod to Filip Forsberg on the strength of his two-goal night against the Islanders. He’s on a point-per-game pace and there’s no reason that can’t continue.
Favorite Thing This Week
Angry Colton Sissons is not someone I’d ever want to fight, and he and Ekholm would make a great WWE tag team:
FORGET THE FIGHT IN THE BACKGROUND, LOOK AT HOW ANGRY COLTON SISSONS IS!#Preds #WhoaNelly pic.twitter.com/fNuluYjxD0— FOX Sports Tennessee (@PredsOnFSTN) October 12, 2018
Concern of the Week
An arbitrator – previously fired by Major League Baseball – reducing Austin Watson’s suspension from 28 to 18 games. There’s less punishment for pleading no contest in a domestic assault incident than for getting caught using PEDs. No matter your opinion on the Watson situation – this is wrong. It sends such a bad message.
Scheduling Quirk of the Week
Two meetings within a span of eight days means the Preds won’t see the New York Islanders again during the regular season. Bye, Barry. See you in (at least) 12 months.
Taking the good with the bad from the previous week:
Plus: Rinne’s strong start (two wins, one shutout, .946 save percentage in three starts)
Minus: Mike Smith going all 2012 playoffs on the Preds in the home opener
Plus: Ryan Hartman had as many interceptions against Winnipeg as any Tennessee Titans defender has this season (for the record, that’s Adoree’ Jackson with two)
Minus: Freddy Gaudreau not entirely being freed
My conspiracy theory is that Freddy Gaudreau is basically just here while Eeli Tolvanen is in Milwaukee to learn NA ice and the Nashville system, and then they will switch out once he is competent. https://t.co/o1PS9XYW0w— Caroline (@carolianne_) October 14, 2018
Plus: Getting two tripping calls on the same play
Minus: Blowing the ensuing two-minute 5-on-3 advantage while Calgary fails to clear the puck once
Plus: Mattias Ekholm perfectly defending a 2-on-1
Minus: Puck bouncing off Ekholm on said 2-on-1 for a goal
Plus: More banners!
Minus: Redundancy within those banners and the ensuing ridicule that comes with a “Regular Season Western Conference Champions” banner (I don’t care that other teams have done it, it’s not a thing worth noting, especially with this current playoff format. That accomplishment is meaningful in college basketball, but it’s worthless in the NHL). You have a Presidents’ Trophy banner – no reason to lessen it by adding something that doesn’t matter
Plus: Game ops, as always, putting together a very good video for the banner-raising ceremony
Minus: Having a currently-suspended player fully dress out for the banner-raising ceremony
Plus: Shutting out Winnipeg despite going 0-9 on the power play
Minus: Going 0-9 on the power play in one game and 0-15 in the first four games
Plus: Kyle Turris breaking said streak, then Forsberg adding another PPG late
Minus: 11 different goal scorers in five games, yet none of them are named Kevin Fiala
Plus: Filip Forsberg’s troll job on Blake Wheeler, causing him to lose his mind
Minus (that probably is really a plus): Blake Wheeler going to fight Forsberg and catching hands from Dan Hamhuis instead
Plus: That start against the Islanders, yo
Minus: That second period against the Islanders, yo
This week’s grade
If you said you wouldn’t take a 4-1 start in the first five games, please line up for the polygraph test. It wasn’t always perfect, but it mostly got the job done. I’m not going to let off-ice things or ceremonial stuff detract from the on-ice grade, which is all this grade is for, anyway.
The grade ticks up a notch thanks to the power play finally, mercifully finding the net. Goaltending was good and the scoring balance has already started to manifest itself throughout the roster. There are things to clean up, but it’s a good start, all things considered. Final grade for the week: A-
Your turn: What did you like out of the Preds’ first 10 days, and what did you not like? Sound off below, and be sure to say hi to Radar while you’re at it.
Who is your Player of the Week for Week 1?
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