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A Tale of Two Teams: It’s the Little Things that Matter…


Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

At the 25 game mark the Predators stand 10th in the Western Conference with 12 wins, 9 losses, 4 OTL and 28 points. They are currently ranked 9th in the NHL on the PP with a 18.5% scoring rating and 16th in the NHL on the PK with a 83% kill rating. On the flip side to this new-found success on the PP comes the rest of the game where the Predators are second to last in two categories that hurt the most. In Shots per Game, the Predators average 26.0 (2nd lowest in NHL) and in Shots Allowed per Game, a whopping 32.5 (2nd most in NHL).

Amidst these facts, there has to be some silver lining to the woes that have faced the Predators in regards to the aforementioned statistical categories and this is where the good, the mediocre and the ugly take shape.

Let’s start with the positives:

Corsi Rating (20+ Games Played):
Colin Wilson – +26.4 – 2nd in NHL

Shea Weber – +15 – 3rd in NHL

Blocked Shots:
Jonathan Blum – 58 – 10th in NHL

Martin Erat – 20 – 20th in NHL

Jerred Smithson – 60 – 27th in NHL

There are many great attributes listed here that help the Predators in each game. These intangibles are what can turn a game around and have the opposing team frustrated beyond belief while keeping the play going the other way. Weber and Suter are both near the top of the NHL for plus/minus ratings, and Jonathan Blum has been selfless in his attempts to block shots, especially in the final minutes of a game. Also, Colin Wilson’s very respectable Corsi rating proves that sometimes a great offense is better than a stingy defense, look no further than the move Colin put on Luongo for the game tying goal against Vancouver.

…And now for the mediocrity. Bear in mind that these players lead the Predators in their respective categories, but let’s see how they rank in terms of the entire league:

Power Play Goals:
Ryan Suter/Craig Smith – 3PPG – 23rd in NHL

Shots on Goal:
Shea Weber – 75 – 24th in NHL

Faceoff %:
Jerred Smithson – 51.7% – 39th in NHL

Penalty Minutes:
Brian McGrattan – 34 – 30th in NHL

Average Points per Game:
David Legwand – .81 – 61st in NHL

Considering how many players are grinding it out throughout the season, these numbers are somewhat respectable. Weber’s shot total is only behind Byfuglien, Karlsson, and Chara for most by a defenseman.

…and here comes the ugly…

Missed Shots:
Shea Weber – 29 – 34th in NHL

Kevin Klein – 20 – 32nd in the NHL

Most Minor Penalties:
Ryan Suter – 11 – 21st in NHL

Time on Ice:
Ryan Suter – 670:02 Minutes – 1st in NHL
Shea Weber – 650:05 Minutes – 2nd in NHL

The only reason to bring up the TOI of Weber and Suter is to point out how much the Predators rely on their all-world defensive pair. This is a ton to ask of either player as they also lead the Predators in average TOI, PP TOI and SH TOI for obvious reasons.

Has Suter been taking too many dumb penalties? From the results…yes. Does Klein make bad mistakes that lead to losing the puck and getting scored upon? The data proves it true. By the way, Klein also holds a plus/minus rating of -13 which makes him 3rd worst in the entire NHL ahead of only four other players.

So where do the Predators go from here? As the numbers suggest, Nashville is a middle-of-the-road team and have played much to this affect for the first 25 games. When a team like the Nashville Predators doesn’t have supreme talent or the monetary ability to go out and get that talent, they have to rely on what they have and play to their strengths. All too often, the Predators have done just that by using the strong tandem of Suter and Weber and a score-by-committee approach to win hockey games.

Hopefully these numbers haven’t escaped the eyes of the Predators organization and maybe a few changes to the blue-line personnel or a polite aside from Trotz, Horachek, or Lambert can curtail some of the mediocre and ugly that has been pointed out above.