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In the Corners

   with Brandon Felder

Jan 12, 2015 - The #1 Team in Your Hearts and in the Standings

All opinions expressed below are just that, opinions of a long-ago Predators blogger who had his time covering the team. They in no way reflect the thoughts or view of The Predatorial or its’ staff. Brandon Felder has a unique perspective that can be viewed as negative, although he prefers it to be called realistic. You can respond to said views in the comments below or reach him personally on Twitter via @brandon_felder

The Nashville Predators have forced the NHL to take note of them. With the All-Star announcements out and mid-season award articles out they have officially become a known team. They were the first to hit 60 points and they’ll be the last to lose their 10th one in regulation. Simply put, they are as good as you can hope for at the moment. That’s with injuries too. So, how was last week? Fantastic.

The Preds began the week with another of the best teams in the NHL and the one they are battling for top of the League with, the Anaheim Ducks. Carter Hutton put forth a valiant effort and the Preds took a lead into the third. The Ducks don’t go down easy in regulation much like Nashville and forced a shootout. Final score: Preds 3 and Anaheim 4.

The Preds returned home from the West Coast for what I would call a trap game vs the Carolina Hurricanes. It took a full 60 minute effort to put the Canes on their heels and the Preds (who may be the best third period team in the NHL) rallied for a third goal 3rd and 3-2 win.

Next on the home-stand came the Central foe the Dallas Stars. Don’t think these are the same Stars from earlier this year as they have improved quite a bit the last few weeks. The Preds got the first goal (a good sign usually this season as they are 15-1-2 when scoring first) but Dallas closed out the 2nd with a late goal to tie things at two. There was some controversy with yet another Forsberg goal disallowed, but Shea Weber left no doubts just 17 seconds into OT as he tallied the open and closing goals of the game. Another win at home, this one 3-2 in OT.

Finally, it was an afternoon tilt with the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. I tend to really love the afternoon games and this one was quite the contest. Colin Wilson and Seth Jones played fantastic, but after the 3-1 win all anyone could talk about was Shea Weber getting quite angry with Matt Cooke, punishing him as he turtled, and then Mike Fisher crushing Nate Prosser in a fight 30 seconds later. The Wild sit in last place of the Central with 41 points and may be on the verge of some coaching changes.


Felder’s Fantastic Five: Respond or react using the #PredsItC5

1. Offense Every Night - Earlier in the year I made a point to note how well the D had been. It’s the offenses turn with the way they’ve been going lately. For 12 straight games the Preds have tallied 3 or more goals. When you have Pekka Rinne in net 3 goals usually gets you a win and that has proven true. Of note, they are doing this without James Neal lately. It comes from everywhere, the forwards, the D-men, heck even Pekka Rinne garnered a point back in Chicago on Dec 30th. At the time of writing the Preds were ranked 9th in the NHL for Goals per Game with a 2.95 average.

Their 5 on 5 Goals For/Against Ratio is still atop the NHL with some room below. The Preds have a 1.53 positive average while second place belongs to the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 1.37. They are 3rd in the NHL with an average of 32 shots on goal per game. Something I found really fascinating was that the Preds are the highest scoring road team in the NHL. They have 73 road goals. These guys are good friends.

2. Special Players - The Predators have some players that are special but are also having special seasons. We know Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber are the most notable names nationally. They are rightfully going to the All-Star game and are having amazing seasons individually. Then there is the rookie Filip Forsberg. He’s set a franchise record for rookie points in a season and we are only halfway through it. Almost a point per game this young, plus he leads the team in goals and points on the season. Another special player given a place at the All-Star game in Columbus albeit in a rookie only competition. But there are more than those 3 players having some sensational years.

Look at the revival of Mike Ribeiro’s career. 36 points in 41 games and just 11 points behind last years 80 game points total. What about Colin Wilson? Think he has benefitted from Peter Laviolette’s tutelage? 12 goals but also +20. That’s a career best +/-. I would be doing you a disservice without mentioning Roman Josi. He resides in Weber’s shadow but it may only be this season that he stays there. +27 on the season, averages the 5th highest TOI in the League with 26:21, and is 4th in the NHL with 109 blocked shots. That’s just a snapshot of what a great season some of the special players for the Preds have done thus far.

3. The ImPEKKABLE Machine - He’s the workhorse and showing he can handle it. Pekka Rinne has been superb this year and even had some Save of the Year candidates happen this past week. If you haven’t seen his Sportcenter #1 highlight in which he makes a miraculous save with the back of his leg then find the highlight… Now. His 28 wins lead the goaltenders in the league by 6 at the time of this writing, 2nd best GAA with a 1.98, and 3rd best Save % with his .930%. He’s been the MVP of the team and if you read some mid-season award prediction articles he is beginning to get national consideration for the League-wide MVP award. Simply the best goaltender out there this year.

4. Balanced, Aggressive, yet Defensively Sound – There are some who find the +/- stat to be flawed. I will admit that it’s not perfect, but I do feel it’s a great way to see how well you are doing as a team. The title of this point is how I would describe the Preds this season. They happen to lead the NHL in team +/- at +34. The New York Rangers placed 2nd with +28. So a little margin there too. I love the system Laviolette and company have put in place. It’s hard to play against and we see the Preds replicate the results and effort of the process often. I’m sure glad they are getting some recognition by coaching in the All-Star game that way even if Laviolette doesn’t win the Jack Adams his and the entire coaching staffs effort was rewarded in some way.

5. Cherish this Time - I’m one of those people who really tries to live in the present. There is no guarantee of a tomorrow so you should enjoy today. Enjoy this moment in time as a Preds fan. It could get even better later this season or it could go awry. We may be on the verge of something special. Time will tell. All I know is that in this moment it’s been a really fun season to watch. We’ve seen this team is more than capable in the regular season. The real test is a few months away. I’m as anxious as anyone to see what will happen, but still much like the 2006-2007 season I’m reminded to cherish the moment. Is it likely the Preds win the President’s trophy? I’d say no but it’s fun to ponder. I will never forget the last time back in 07 when I left the arena having heard the crowd chant “We’re #1″ referring to the standings. It’s just fun. This doesn’t happen every year. Enjoy the moments. I know I have.


3 Stars of the Week:

1. Shea Weber – 2 goals, 1 assist, +2, and 10 shots on goal. He changes games. It’s why he remains the Preds best D-man in the simple fact that his influence is felt all over the ice. Ask Matt Cooke about that.

2. Colin Wilson – 1 goal, 3 assists, +4, and 6 shots on goal. I love the way Colin plays with confidence now. He’s becoming the player we all hoped for. Good timing too with the RFA year.

3. Mike Fisher – 1 goal,  2 assists, +2, and 8 shots on goal. If you thought Fisher had nothing left in the tank how wrong you are. He’s finding his offense again but already has helped rescue this team’s penalty kill unit since returning.


Goalie Grade

Pekka Rinne – A – Pekka had a win in all 3 of his games played. He stopped 77 of 82 shots against. Continued stellar stuff.

Carter Hutton – C+ – Probably would have had s higher grade if that first goal given up against Anaheim wasn’t so soft. Stopped 30 of 33 shots against.  Only made 1 save in the shootout though. Tough competition and he performed above average but still hasn’t found that first win of the year.


Question of the Week – In my brief absence I received a great email question from Berry Caldwell. Thanks to him for submitting the following: “In your last post you hinted at additions with the trade deadline being key to a push further into the playoffs. Isn’t the chemistry of a team, our team, disrupted to some point with late attempts to “fill-in”?  I mean, as example, Forsberg (Peter) and Radulov, in previous season come to mind. They were talented but I’d argue there was no real improvement and possibly they actually did more damage in the disruption to the team and the attention being demotivated for those who worked all season?”

When it comes to the playoffs there is one thing that you can never have enough of: depth. I would disagree that Peter Forsberg was a disruption. His play was at a point per game level and he added the depth needed that year to be able to push through the rounds. Coaching simply failed that year.

The reality is these are professionals. Chemistry on a hockey team can be disrupted only so much. It’s on the coaches to put the right pieces with each other. Off ice these guys should know how to go about there business and winning is how they get paid. I for one am of the opinion that a hockey team is so big that chemistry plays a much smaller role than say a basketball team.

All in all the only moves needed is to add depth scoring. That’s the end game that helps you as guys get bumps and bruises throughout the playoff rounds. You will never see an opening roster have no one on IR come playoffs. So you make moves to buffer the probable games lost due to injuries.

If you’d like to submit a question for next weeks “In the Corners” simply tweet it using #PredsItC or email it to me using the subject In the Corners Question. My email is


Perilous Prediction – The last time I posted a column (Dec 22nd)  went with a prediction of Colin Wilson scoring a goal and 2 assists that week in 3 games. He did that and more with 4 goals and 1 assist. I will take the point as nailing that one…

This week I am going to go with the Preds only allowing 4 total goals against. Submit your predictions using the #PredsItCPP. Be sure to get those in before puck drop of the game. The more of you who participate the better…


The Week Ahead –  In my #PredsItCWAP I went with a 2-1 predicted record for the Dec. 22nd week. The Preds did exactly that.

The week ahead features 3 games including one special return.

Tuesday night it is the Vancouver Canucks visiting Music City for a normal 7 PM CST in the Bridgestone Arena. The Nucks are tied for 2nd in the Pacific with San Jose at 49 points. They just completed a five game home stand but dropped their last 2 matches to Florida and Calgary. The scoring is hit or miss for them so it will be interesting to see which Vancouver team shows up.

Friday night is the special one. The Washington Capitals are coming to Nashville as is their 1st year head coach Barry Trotz. It’s going to be so weird to see Trotzy on the opposing bench, but I’m sure it will be a night of memories and a tribute video. The time was overdue for Barry to move on from Nashville but you can not take away the significant impact he made to the franchise and hockey growth in the area. It’s going to be fun to see the fans get a chance to properly thank him. The Caps have won 4 of their last 5 games starting with that Winter Classic victory over Chicago. Normal 7 PM start in Nashville.

The very next night the Preds visit an old familiar rival. Detroit will host Nashville for a 6 PM CST Saturday start. The Wings are in 3rd place for the Atlantic division with 53 points as of this writing. They are a tough team at home boasting the 5th best home record at the Joe. One thing to note is that the Red Wings placed Jimmy Howard on IR. They are heading into the week with Peter Mrazek and Tom McCollum as their goalies. Normal backup Jonas Gustavsson has been out with a shoulder injury since Nov. 5th.

My #PredsItCWAP is the Preds go 2-0-1. I love the way the team is playing right now but you never know what you are going to get with Eastern Conference opponents. I will mark the Detroit game as an OT loss thinking it’s Hutton in net.

Feel free to add your own prediction for the week at #PredsItCWAP.


I hope you’ve been well since my last column. Working in retail makes the holidays hard to find down time to write, but then after them you just need rest. I’m back at it for the home stretch of this 2014-2015 season. Can’t wait to see what we will discuss next.

Remember to join in on the year long conversation using the #PredsItC.

Till the next time, take care.

To get in the conversation, use the Twitter hashtag #PredsItC

To get in the conversation, use the Twitter hashtag #PredsItC