41 goals in 64 games.
That’s the total number of goals the Nashville Predators have allowed in the second period all season, 3 less than the next three teams above them (Rangers, Devils, Bruins). No team in the NHL this year has had better second periods than the Predators. So, after a 3-goal let down of a second period last night to the Carolina Hurricanes, it’s time to step back and look at how the second period can really define a team.
It’s the central frame, where teams have the long change for each shift and both really settle into a game to try and exploit each others weaknesses. It’s a period that the Nashville Predators have been infamous over the past few seasons as having a classic case of “the second period,” as some fans will be very quick to point out….but it’s THAT total mind-set that is very deceiving in the first place.
Most fans still want to believe that the second period isn’t Nashville’s best period. In terms of goal scoring? Yeah, they would be right, as the Predators tend to sit in the bottom 5 teams in the league for scoring in the middle of the game. However the second period is where Nashville seemingly finds a way to put a stranglehold on their opponents offense to prepare them for the third period where the Predators are 5th overall in the NHL in goals scored in the last 20 minutes.
Prior to last night’s oddity against the Hurricanes, Nashville had allowed only NINE goals in the second period over the past 19 games. In the 44 games prior to that? Only 29 goals given up in the second period. Nashville has blanked their opponent in 36 of their 64 ganes so far in the middle 20 minutes. Surprised yet? Well, let’s take it a step further: Nashville has been, on average, the 10th best team defensively in the second period since the lockout. They’ve been the best once (last season, 2010-2011), the second best once (2006-2007), and in the bottom half 3 times (05-06, 07-08, 08-09).
Here’s another way to look at it: Some of the BEST TEAMS in the league can’t crack Nashville’s stifling defense in the second period. Chicago and St. Louis have scored only 1 goal apiece in their meetings this year with the Predators in the 2nd. Only SIX teams have scored more than one goal against Nashville in the second period this season, all but one are in playoff contention and Detroit has done it twice. The only team to score MORE than two goals in that period this season? Vancouver, when they scored 4…in a 6-5 loss. This is a full list of teams Nashville has blanked in the second:
New York (Islanders), Columbus, Chicago (x3), St. Louis (x4), Vancouver, Boston, Detroit, Colorado, Carolina, Calgary (x3), Minnesota (x2), Washington (x2), Phoenix (x2), Buffalo, Edmonton (x3), Montreal, San Jose, Vancouver, and New Jersey
Although Nashville may not be the best offensively in the middle stanza, they are the best defensively. So you can easily tell, especially with an overall record of 21-10-4 when shutting opponents out in the 2nd, how the team is going to fare with the end result. The Predators are now 3-5-1 when allowing more than 1 goal in the second period. With it only happening nine times so far this season, it’s nothing to completely get worked up about. Yet, it’s something to sit back and look at how important the middle twenty minutes is for Nashville, and most other teams, as that can essentially be the most important period of the game.