What a weird, but fun game. The Nashville Predators were clearly the better team, but this match could’ve easily gone to overtime. There was not one, but two offside reviews that paid dividends for the Predators. Seriously, the video staff earned their money, even if the first was only offside because Ryan Hartman slew foot-ed Sam Girard.
My rantings aside, the Predators controlled the pitch for just about the entirety of the game, though there were some lapses. Let’s go through each line and see who exactly made the grade. All stats below are at five on five unless explicitly stated otherwise.
I thought Ryan Johansen was excellent defensively and in transition, but it seemed like the line never really found their footing in the offensive zone. Forsberg and Fiala did a good job of entering the offensive zone with possession, but it rarely led to anything. The trio seemed almost a little scared to mess up and send Nathan MacKinnon and company going the other way.
I’m glad the trio broke about even for possession, but their high danger chance share is terrible. Giving up four of the Avalanche’s 11 total high danger chances is the opposite of what the Predators needed. Overall, it was a pretty average game, and so I think an average grade is pretty reasonable.
I have no idea what’s happening with Craig Smith. He was one of, if not the best Predator in terms of analytics last season, and this season is close to opposite. His offensive stats, like shot per 60, are still good but he’s not producing the same amount as he did last season. Without Fiala to bring the other two into the offensive zone, Smith seems powerless. I hope Fiala makes his way back to the second line after Arvidsson comes back, but we can’t accurately say what exactly will happen.
What we do know is that the current second line is floundering. They have better possession metrics than the first line, but let’s remember that they received better sheltering and easier competition. No offense intended, but the Colin Wilson line doesn’t hold a candle to the MacKinnon line.
It gets worse and worse as you look closer. This line couldn’t produce a single high danger chance for, but I guess they only gave up one against. What a forgettable performance, therefore I think they deserve a grade they’ll want to forget.
The possession stats are great and way above the Predators game average, but let’s go deeper. They produced eight scoring chances, of which four were high danger while only surrendering four scoring chances and two high danger chances. Controlling 66% of high danger chances on ice is incredible, and producing 40% of the Predators’ total high danger chances is just as good.
Their competition wasn’t exactly easy either. They took on the MacKinnon line and did better than I could’ve possibly imagined. Colton Sissons deserves a huge pat on the back as he scored a hat trick, with two goals coming at five on five. On top of that, he also produced four of the four high danger chances. Bonino and Hartman also had really good games, although Hartman had an injury scare about halfway through.
If you listened to the NBCSN broadcast, you might believe that Bonino is the second coming. I will agree that this was likely his best game as a Predator this season, but his lack of offense got covered by Sissons, which probably won’t happen again. Still, an effort like this deserves a perfect score, and so they shall get one.
This trio was the only line that couldn’t break even in terms of possession while also failing to produce a single high danger chance. They basically were on the defensive all night, even though they mainly faced the Kerfoot line. I don’t know what the Predators want from this trio, I mean that this was a perfectly expectable result for their talent level.
Maybe it’s because I’m feeling generous, or maybe it’s pure dumb luck, but I’m giving them a better grade than they probably deserve. They got pretty lucky tonight, so why not let it continue.
Once again, it’s good to see the duo break way above even in terms of possession. They did a good job of limiting chances in the defensive zone, and often led the breakout in convincing fashion. I don’t care how bad a player is at defense as long as they can minimize their time in the defensive zone by moving the puck out with possession. Well, Josi and Ellis were extremely diligent with the puck, and rarely gave the Avalanche a chance to set up possession in the zone.
Their high danger chance share is fine, but I would like to see them produce a bit more. Granted, they didn’t exactly have an easy time with their zone starts, and the fact they mostly faced the MacKinnon line. Coach Jared Bednar was definitely trying to pick on the first pairing in an effort to expose their defensive lapses, but the duo did a good job of adjusting. Overall, it was a pretty good effort from the first pair.
Yes, their possession metrics aren’t as good as the first pair’s, but Subban and Ekholm spent over 11 minutes of their total 16 against the MacKinnon line. Not only did they stare down the terrible trio, but Subban and Ekholm came out victorious. They allowed three high danger chances but were on the ice for five on their own.
The duo was rewarded with a goal, but more importantly, they were rewarded with a win. These two players were easily the best defenders on the ice, even if they stumbled sometimes.
I honestly don’t want to talk about this pair right now. They were heavily sheltered all night and still managed to get their butts kicked. For as good as the top two pairs were, the third pair was almost equally as bad. Let’s look at the stats and get to the goaltending.
Pekka Freaking Rinne
Pekka Rinne was, once again, the best Predator on Wednesday night. His defense looked pretty decent in front of him, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t tested.The biggest sign here is that Rinne stopped all 11 high danger chances against and all eight shots from the high danger area. He was perfect at five on five, and the two disallowed goals were pretty good chances that came from screens or tips. I do wonder if they’re playing him too much after a minor injury, but maybe that’s just me being selfish and wanting more Juuse Saros. All in all, Rinne had a great game and deserves the A.