Oct 17, 2013
Nashville has long been known as a team that’s frequently been out-shot by the opposition. That no longer seems to be an issue. Registering 30+ shots in five of their seven games to start the season, whatever coach Barry Trotz has been telling his team over the offseason has stuck and is giving Nashville a better chance to win.
As the Predators fell in a shootout against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday evening, they still out-shot them 35-30 through 65 minutes. If shots on net continue to be a strong point for the Predators, they’ll be on pace to have their best average of shots forced since the 2009-2010 season.
“I think we’re a more mature group [than previous years]. I think we have a lot of more straight-line players. We can hang on to the puck because we have some size in our lineup. I think we’re a deeper group and we don’t have to over-extend guys and stuff we’ve had to do for a number of seasons and different situations,” said head coach Barry Trotz.
One of Nashville’s major contributors with a team-high 28 shots on goal this season, Predators forward and assistant captain Patric Hornqvist knows that outshooting the opposition is already giving Nashville a better chance to win in the early parts of the season.
“It means we’re getting a lot of momentum in the game and a lot of opportunities. Now we just have to stick with it a little longer. Cullen gets a bounce there in front of the net, but if we keep shooting forty shots and create those chances, we’re going to get more bounces in front,” said Predators forward Patric Hornqvist. “Sooner or later they’re going to go in, we just have so many guys [up front] and we can’t really find the second puck. We have to work on taking it to the net and bearing down on second chances”
Last season, the Predators averaged 25.9 shots on net, the lowest in the league by nearly half a shot per game. Only seven games in, Nashville has raised that average by over four points, sitting at 30.6 shots on goal per game, a vast improvement from last year.
“You always want to put volume of pucks at the net, especially when you have a good goaltender on the other side. You gotta get pucks to the net, you gotta get bodies there and second opportunities. If we keep getting chances, it’s bound to go in sooner or later,” said Predators captain Shea Weber.
With twelve of their next fifteen games on the road, the Predators continue to stress the importance of keeping the shots flowing to the net and using it as a consistent momentum-builder.
“We know we have a tough schedule in front of us, but today was a great game. We all did the right things out there. We didn’t get the two points but we did some really good things. Keep building on that, but have fun on the road too,” said Hornqvist. “I really think we were better than them over sixty five minutes. In the shootout they get two points, but we have to build on this ‘loss’. We played really good and we played a strong game. If we keep doing that, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua