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From the outside looking in, it is easy to assume the ownership group, Predators Holdings LLC, feels confident in what our team looked like last year. Only two new players will be on the roster this season. Dan Hamhuis and Zac Rinaldo are those two new players for the 2018-19 season.
Zac Rinaldo the “One New Face”, was drafted in the 6thround by the Philidephia Flyers in 2008. Rinaldo may be a new name for the Nashville faithful, but he is well known by Predators head coach Peter Laviolette. Laviolette was the head coach of the Flyers in 2011 when Rinaldo made his NHL debut. In six seasons in the NHL he has accounted for 14 goals, 20 assists and 34 points in 328 games played. Even though he does not have outstanding numbers he is known for standing up for his teammates and plays tougher when he needs to.
Dan Hamhuis the “One Coming Home”, was drafted 12th overall in 2001 by the Nashville Predators to play defense. He would go on to make his NHL debut during the 2003 season. Dan would spend six seasons in Nashville before going to Vancouver in 2010. During his time in Nashville, Hamhuis recorded 32 goals, 129 assists and played in 483 games. Dan spent his last two season is Dallas where he played in 159 games scoring 4 goals with 36 assists. The Predators signed Dan Hamhuis to a 2-year deal worth $2.5 million during the offseason.
Team chemistry will be the driving force for success this season. After suffering a blowout loss to the Winnipeg Jets in front of their home crowd, there were questions about the future of the team and who would leave or stay. Knowing that the owners and coaches trusted the players we have to bring a championship to Nashville in 2019. The trust instilled in the players should be a sign to expect big things to happen in Nashville.
Just think about it, a new system isn’t needed to be taught to a bunch of new players. The Team already knows the tendencies and skating patterns by their current teammates. The players on the team minus the two new faces, were all a part of that loss at home and know how it felt when the horn went off. The experience of that alone will help provide spark to do better, and will be expected by the team.
The Predators will be without Ryan Hartman due to an injury last season. He had to have shoulder surgery and is eyeing a return next week. The Predators will also play 24 games without Austin Watson who was suspended because of a domestic violence charge during the offseason.
After reviewing their record and schedule for last season and the upcoming schedule for this season, I predict that the Predators will finish 60-13-9. That’s only seven wins better, I know, but by saying that, I don’t expect us to have a decline in wins. Look at our home and away record last year, on the road where it is tougher to win we went 25-9-7. At home we were 28-9-4.
Two main reasons I believe we do about the same in record and win the Central division again is because we have almost our whole team back. Including Viktor Arvidsson who scored 29 goals, P.K. Subban who accounted for 43 assists, Filip Forsberg who had 64 points ( goals + assists). And most importantly Pekka Rinne who won the Vezina Trophy for being the best goalie in the NHL last season. Rinne only allowed 2.2 goals a game last season in 59 games played, winning 42 of those or 71% of the games.
The Predators came out hot in Game 3, scoring a goal 4:53 into the 1st period. Mike Fisher scored from a Mattias Ekholm assist. A Jets penalty was called on Blake Wheeler for tripping and 24 seconds later P.K. Subban scores on a slap shot. 17:35 into the period Austin Watson, scored the 3rd goal for the Predators. The game seemed to be out of hand for the Jets. The Predators were leading 3-0 at the end of the 1st period, and Nashville fans were excited for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, the Jets would score 4 unanswered goals in the 2nd period.
The scoring spree was started by Jets’ Paul Stastny 2:38 into the period. Dustin Byfuglien would score a goal at 5:11. Then, just 18 seconds later, Jacob Trouba would join the scoring. The Predators would seem to have calmed down the pressure of the Jets, but they would score a 4th goal at 19:15 in to the period by Dustin Byfuglien. The Jets led 4-3 at the end of the 2nd period.
7:40 into the 3rd period, Filip Forsberg scores a power play goal, even the score at 4-4. After a few power play kills and attempts for both teams, the Jets scored a 5th goal on a power play by Blake Wheeler 15:01 into the period. The Predators would pull Pekka Rinne from goal with a minute left in the game and the Jets would capitalize on 2 empty net goals. The Jets won 7-4.
The Predators need to play a complete game tonight if they want to win the game in Winnipeg and tie the series. Pekka Rinne had a .884 save percentage allowing 5 goals and saving 38 of the 43 shots on goal. The defense has to step up in front of the goal and not allow the Jets to have shot attempts close to the goal. Pekka Rinne will hold down the goal and give the Predators a better chance to win the game. They just need to keep the offensive pressure going on the Jets goalie Hellebuyck.
The Predators head out to Winnipeg for Game 3 of the series tied 1-1. This playoffs Filip Forsberg leads the Predators with 9 points. Thats 5 assists and 4 goals. Ryan Johansen is tied with Austin Watson and Filip Forsberg with 4 goals each. Pekka Rinne has a save percentage of .905 in the playoffs.
The Jets statistical leaders are Mark Scheifele with 10 points 8 of those are goals. Dustin Byfuglien has 6 assist in the playoffs. The Jets goalie Mark Hellebuyck has a save percentage of .928 in this year’s playoffs.
Game 2 started like game 1. The Predators lead the pressure early with most of the first period shots on goal. Ryan Johansen would score a goal only 27 seconds into the game. After a lot of pressure on the Jets Goalie, an interference call would lead to a Jets 4 on c4 goal scored by Dustin Byfuglien at the 12:47 mark to tie the game 1-1. Roughly 30 seconds later the Jets would take a 2-1 lead on a power play goal scored by Mark Scheifele. That would end the goal scoring for the first period with the Jets leading 2-1.
The second period would show that the Predators were still a strong team. P.K. Subban would fire a one timer to the back of the net 5:04 into the period to tie the game 2-2. After a few power play chances by the Predators with no answer they would score another goal in the period. Viktor Arvidsson would score with 1:19 left in the second period. the Predators would lead 3-2 at the end of the second period.
The Jets tied the game 3-3 on a goal scored by Brandon Tanev 5:11 into the period. The Predators responded 34 seconds later with a goal that would seem to be enough to win the game 4-3. The goal was scored by Ryan Johansen, his second of the game. Unfortunately the Predators took their foot off the gas pedal and allowed the Jets to hold offensive pressure for too long. Mark Scheifele would find the net to tie the game 4-4 with 1:05 left in the game. Nashville is unable to hit a game winning shot so the game headed to OT.
In the first OT period, both teams played tough and clean. There were no penalties or goals made.
In the 2nd OT period the Predators would lead the offensive pressure. Both teams would have some good shots on goal but nothing was falling. After a take away by the Predators at center ice Kevin Fiala would deke around the goalie leaving the right side of the net open. He would make the shot. The Predators won 5-4 in the 2nd OT.
Game 1 was disappointing for Predators fans and the team. They were leading the game in most aspects of the game except in points. The Predators had 48 shots on goal and managed to have 1 find the net. Of those 48 shots roughly 6 rattled the pipes. That fractions of an inch away from the game and the series being different. Another plus from the game is that the Predators were not in the penalty box at all during the game. They also lead in face offs, they had 35 face off wins. The part of the game that gave the game to the Winnipeg Jets were, takeaways and giveaways. The predators have the puck up on bad passes or failed clearings were 13. And the Jets took the puck from the Predators 15 times.
Scoring break down.
For the Jets at 14:51, Brandon Tanev scored.
A goal for the Jets scored by Paul Stastny at 9:01. Again the Jets scored a goal by Mark Scheifele 17:51 into the period.
A goal scored by the Predators by Kevin Fiala 1:23 into the period.
The Jets would score a goal on an empty net by Mark Scheifele with 36 seconds left in the game.
The Predators need to bring the pressure in game 2 and trust that their game play and shots on goal will result in points on the board. Game 1 was a testimony to the great goalie play by the Jets and the Predators nation know that they can play with anyone. I will expect another great game by the offense and some defensive players to step up and limit the chances of the Jets.
(Picture from, Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Winnipeg Jets @ Nashville Predators
Winnipeg comes to down to Nashville after winning their series 4-1 against the Minnesota Wild. Nashville won their series 4-2 against Colorado Avalanche. Nashville lead the Central Division with a 53-18-11 (W-L-OTL) record and 117 points. The Jets were in second with 3 points behind in the Central Division, with 114 points and a 52-20-10 (W-L-OTL) record. This season the Predators and the Jets played each other five times. Nashville leads the season series 3-1-1 Losing one game in a shoot out and the other 6-5.
Austin Watson lead Nashville’s first series with 7 points. 4 goals scored and 3 assists. Filip Forsberg also scored 4 goals. Mattias Ekholm lead with 5 assist.
For the Jets Mark Scheifele had 5 points. leading the team with 4 goals. He also had 1 assist. Dustin Byfuglien had 5 assist in their series.
Both teams have great goalies, Pekka Rinne for the Predators and Connor Hellebuyck for the Jets. The Jets goalie had a save percentage of .924 giving up 9 goals in the last series. Rinne for the Predators had a save percentage of .909 giving up 14 goals. They both had 1 shutout during their previous series.
In Game 6 of the first round the Predators finally played a complete game. The defense stepped up and only allowed 22 shots to be taken at Pekka Rinne. He would block all 22 of the shots to post a perfect game, a shutout. This will be his 9th of the season. I would say this game will help him secure the Vezina Award.
There was also a defensive goal scored by the Predators for the first time in the series. The goal was scored by Mattias Ekholm just 7:02 into the first period. This came 30 seconds after a Predator goal was waved off. The predators would score another goal 10:19 into the 1st period scored by Austin Watson. The 1st would end 2-0 with the Predators out front.
In the 2nd period 38 seconds into the period Filip Forsberg scores a quick goal. The goal was unassisted after Ekholm caused a turnover on a big hit. There would be a strong offensive presence during the 2nd period that would eventually lead to the 4th goal of the game for the Predators. The goal was scored by Nick Bonino 8:26 into the period. The score when the 2nd period ended was 4-0.
The predators hadn’t played a complete game in the series, so the early lead left predators fans excited but also curious if the game would be close at the final horn. For the Predators fans the reality that the Predators had finally played a great game. The shots on goal stayed low for the Avalanche and the offensive pressure was still strong for the Predators. The predators would score the 5th and final goal of the game 2:36 in to the period. The final score is 5-0 at the horn. Andrew Hammond for the Avalanche would give up 5 goals, saving 32 of the shots. He posted a .865 save percentage.