Predators Picking Up Where They Left Off
By Patrick Hoffman
After getting to the Stanley Cup Final last year for the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators have picked-up right where they left off.
As of this writing (November 30, 2017), the team is 15-6-3 with 33 points, good for third in the extremely tight Central Division. The team is also just two points out of first place in both their division and the Western Conference behind the St. Louis Blues.
This season at least, the team's success starts with the play of their netminder Pekka Rinne. The 35-year-old netminder is certainly not playing like one as he looks as agile as ever between the pipes for the only team he has ever played for.
In 19 games this season, the Finnish masked man is 14-3-2 with a 2.29 goals against average, a .928 save percentage, and 2 shutouts. His success is coming from being tall in the net, being in good position for not only the first shot, but the second and third attempts, and he's also playing with the confidence he gained from taking his team to the Final last season.
The Predators are also getting balanced scoring. Leading the way is Filip Forsberg, who leads the team with 25 points (12 goals and 13 assists). He has been one of the team's most consistent offensive players the last three plus seasons and that does not look like it is going to change anytime soon.
Following Forsberg's offensive lead are the likes of Viktor Arvidsson (9 goals and 8 assists for 17 points), Ryan Johansen (3 goals and 14 assists for 17 points), Kevin Fiala (2 goals and 12 assists for 14 points), and Craig Smith (8 goals and 4 assists for 12 points). These guys may not have gaudy numbers, but they are more than serviceable forwards and can definitely contribute offensively.
What's interesting this season is that the team has gotten a lot of offensive production from their defensemen this season. P.K. Subban (4 goals and 14 assists for 18 points), Roman Josi (6 goals and 10 assists for 16 points) and Mattias Ekholm (6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points) have been studs this season and have certainly helped the club's offensive output so far this season.
The team has also been solid when it comes to special teams, especially on the power play. With the man advantage, the Predators are currently third in the league at 25.8%. On the penalty kill, the team is also third in the league at 84.3%.
This team is clicking on all cylinders and are one of the deepest teams not only in their division and conference, but in the entire league. Should this kind of play keep up, they might find themselves with another shot to win hockey's Holy Grail.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.