Holiday Break stops the skid, Preds Reclaim First

by Taylor Parks

How is it that a three day holiday break seems like a lifetime? None the less, the BOYS ARE BACK, and what better way to welcome some post Christmas hockey with Central Division tilt against the St. Louis Blues.  The Nashville Predators come into this game off of arguably their worst game of the season against Carolina and a shootout loss to the Dallas Stars.  The Predators started the scoring off with yet another showing from the Turris line as Craig Smith tipped in a shot from Roman Josi to gain an early advantage at 10:37 of the first period.  The Preds added to their lead in the second period with a Calle Jarnkrok rifle shot that beat the goaltender Jake Allen.  The shot was a thing of beauty, but the no-look pass from Filip Forsberg was out of this world.  The Blues battled back in the third to make is a one score game with a tally from Sobotka, but Pekka Rinne and the Predators emerged victorious with a 2-1 victory.

Three Things We Learned

JOFA maybe no more.

It happens every year.  A group of players who click from the previous year just don’t seem to have that same chemistry as the year before.  The ever popular JOFA line (Forsberg-Johansen-Arvidsson) has been split up numerous times this year ever since Johansen got hurt earlier this season.  When the line has been put back together, they just don’t seem to have the same magic that they had the previous year.  That’s not to say the individual players are playing poorly, but they cant seem to find that “thing” that made them so special.  Thankfully  the FiTS (Fiala-Turris-Smith) line has been there to pick up the slack and has been one of the more deadly lines in the NHL and the addition of the new “Three Swede line” (Forsberg-Jarnkrok-Aberg) has been a welcomed sight as well.  The JOFA line might be gone for the immediate future, but expect to see it reinstated at the next sign of trouble.

Rinne Bounces Back

I’m going to be honest. He didn’t have to do much to improve on his last outing against the Hurricanes where he gave up four goals on six shots, but tonight was the bounce back game he needed.  It begs the question if Rinne needs rest more often to keep his high level of play and with how well Saros has played as of late, look for the young gun to get a few more starts until after the All Star break.

Ryan Ellis Update

Ummmmm….he’s getting better.  What did you expect? I’m no doctor.  In all seriousness, look for him to get some third pair minutes come the first of the year.  The Preds are almost at full strength. GM David Poile has stated that Ellis is scheduled to return on January 2nd.

*Photo Credit Amy Irvin from the Hockey Writers

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