The start of the season has come at a slow pace. The Nashville Predators have had plenty of rest and have played teams on their own terms. Teams like the San Jose Sharks have played four games in eight days while Nashville played their first four games in nine days while staying at home.
Home cooking is never to be underestimated. It has a powerful effect, especially in the beginning of the season. The ability to develop chemistry while still having your home bed to sleep in is a valuable asset.
Playing your first games at home, and winning three of four is a great way to start the season.
1. Fabbro’s Hard Time
Thursday night’s game was not a great one for Dante Fabbro. He was under 50% as far as leaving the zone with possession while also losing 83% of puck battles. Things could not have gone worse for the young blueliner.
Fabbro has had a tough time adapting to the NHL. Top four minutes isn’t easy on anyone, especially a 21-year-old kid.
2. Get Out
My preferred style of defense is to play defense as little as possible. Not in a no-effort kind of way, but in a, the less the other team has the puck, the less the other team can score. P.K. Subban was a master of this, he defended the blueline with sublime efficiency while moving the puck out of the zone with ease.
Subban no longer plays for the team, and while Roman Josi remains an elite puck mover, the rest of the blueline is floundering. The game against the San Jose Sharks was the best example. All stats are five on five and tracked by me.
The defense as a whole attempted to exit the zone 53 times, 12 of those were unsuccessful. That means the pucks didn’t exit the zone and ended up in the Sharks possession. Of the remaining 41 successful exits, 22 were dump outs, meaning that the puck exited the zone but ended up in the Sharks possession. This means that 54% of successful zone exits were without possession and in turn were less likely to lead to a Predators’ offensive zone entry.
Exiting the zone likely won’t be an issue against teams like Detroit or Minnesota, but good teams like San Jose will make the Predators pay.
3. Is Neal The Real Deal?
As I write this, James Neal leads the league in goals with seven goals in four games. For those of you that miss him and still bemoan keeping Calle Jarnkrok, think about it like this.
With Neal’s 5.75 million dollar cap hit, that means no Matt Duchene. So take that as you will.
4. Year Of The Young Back
I can’t remember the last time good young defensive backs were so plentiful in the NHL. Newer and newer defenders are feeling emboldened to play with the puck while remaining good in their own zone.
Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes headline the class of rookies for this season, but it doesn’t stop there. Sam Girard is a breakout wizard while also commanding a powerplay. On the other side of that, Rasmus Dahlin handles himself like a 10-year vet despite being 19.
The young backs are leading the way this season and making it so exciting to watch. Dante Fabbro has shown flashes of this kind of brilliance, but it feels like he still hasn’t found his game just yet. That sounds bad, but it’s extremely fair considering he’s playing top-four minutes despite only playing 13 games so far.
What a fun time to be a hockey fan.
5. Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes
I try to stick to hockey, but I couldn’t resist this story. The University of Kansas is upset at the rapper Snoop Dogg for performing a racy show at a school-sanctioned event. Supposedly the show was racy and included vulgar language which was too much for the virgin ears of the University officials.
My take on this is, what did you expect? When you hire Snoop Dogg, whose biggest hits are “Gin and Juice” and “Nuthin’ But A G Thang”, you should expect his performance to reflect his music.
When you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes. Don’t hire the gangster rapper to perform at a school-sanctioned event. It’s not a hard equation, although it is hilarious.