by Thomas Sarver
With a quarter of the season already in the books, it is easy to have missed some things. Especially with games happening almost every other night, so today on we are going to break down just a few of things that would’ve been easy to miss.
1. Goaltending Heroics
As stated in a previous article, Pekka Rinne’s play was expected to take a step back this year. No player can beat father time, although a lot of ex NHLers have tried, and when you couple that with the heavy workload that Rinne has had throughout his career, a step back would’ve been reasonable. However, apparently just because it’s reasonable to fans, does not mean it is reasonable to Pekka. The fantastic Fin has been a force to be reckoned with this year posting a 1.64 Goals allowed average and a .944 save percentage. Numbers like that makes it easy to understand how he became the winningest Finish goaltender in NHL history.
Pekka is not the only good Finnish goaltender this year though, Juuse Saros got an opportunity to give us a glance into the future when Pekka went down with an injury. Juuse did not disappoint, going 4-2 in his 6-game stint as the starter, Juuse also had 164 saves on 177 shot attempts leading him to a .927 save percentage in that time. Being the young goaltender that he is, he still has to improve aspects of his game, but time is on his side.
2. Goal differential
One of the best things a team can do is be amazing at putting the puck in the net while keeping the puck out of their net at the same time. The Preds are 6th in the league in goal scoring with 74 goals scored on the year, and also first in the league at keeping the puck out the net only allowing 49 goals to be scored on them so far in the year. Nashville’s defensive dominance has led to the Preds having the best overall goal differential with a + 25. What is probably the leading contributor to that is that the Nashville Predators have had 20 different players put the puck in the back of the net which is more than any other team in the league. When you have scoring depth like that, it lightens the load on your superstars.
3. Superstar performances
Speaking of superstars, The Predators’ stars have come out to play this year. Leading the way is Swedish winger Filip Forsberg, who is on pace to set the new team record in single-season goals. Currently held by both Forsberg and former captain Jason Arnott with 33 goals in one season. Also leading the way are the one-two punch the Preds have at center, Ryan Johansen, and Kyle Turris with 20 and 16 points respectively.
4. The powerplay
It can’t all be good. The Preds went from having a top ten powerplay last year to having the second worst in the league. Last year teams had to think long and hard if they wanted to take a penalty and risk getting burned. This year the Preds have had more opportunities on the powerplay than anyone else. The silver lining here is that when Nashville figures out what they need to do to get their power play rolling, they will be lighting up the scoreboard. Unfortunately, the injuries to P.K. Subban and Viktor Arvidsson will make figuring out the power play just a little difficult.