Most of us unwrapped gifts and spent time with family on this unusually warm Christmas day. Hopefully you received everything you wanted during the holidays. Your wish list probably included a resurgent Predator team for the rest of the season. Here’s what Nashville hopes is under their tree this year.
A Healthy Mike Fisher
Fisher has been absent in the lineup since exiting the game on the first of the month. The good news is he has been skating with the team in practice, so a return is likely on the horizon. Fisher is a player that does everything pretty well.
Really good on the PK, nice finisher, and ability to make the right play in a critical scenario all describe the veteran. In addition, Jarnkrok is playing so well in his elevated top six role that Fisher could slide into the 3C position and thus precisely fit his skillset of being an exceptional two-way forward.
Special Teams Keeping Their Momentum
The power play is surging in recent weeks. Climbing to a tie for eighth in the league, we discussed just how they’re accomplishing this in a recent article. Scoring on the man advantage can disguise holes when 5v5 goals are coming few and far between.
The penalty kill was at times atrocious this season. It has cost Nashville a few games during their skid and desperately needed a turnaround. The Predators have begun to reverse the trend by clicking at a 83.3% clip in the past six games. The eventual return of Mike Fisher and Gabriel Bourque should help that number increase.
Pekka Rinne, admittedly, hasn’t been his world class self this season. Not as bad as some have suggested, but there’s a noticeable difference in his play. However, the murmurs of him being over the hill are probably too hasty of an assumption.
Rinne’s last game before the holiday break saw the vintage Pekka in between the pipes. The big win over the Canadiens had similarities of how Nashville used to win games in prior years by capitalizing on special teams and relying on Rinne to become the brick wall he can become on any given day.
Continued Execution of a Winning Formula
Suppressing the opposition’s total shot attempts and shots on goal have probably been the best aspect of this season’s team. They are currently ranked second in fewest SOG allowed and continue to be top a Corsi team.
Scoring and preventing goals is the name of the game. Shots only get you so far, but Nashville is putting themselves in really good positions more often than not to win the game if other factors begin to fall in their favor.
A #1 Center
Oh come on, you all knew this was going to pop on this before reading the first word. The ramblings are becoming louder every week with national hockey insiders citing the team’s interest in acquiring Ryan Johansen and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
It probably won’t happen before season’s end, but the anticipation is rampant with how finally adding that elusive missing piece of the puzzle could change Nashville’s fortunes this year and beyond. With that, this gift is not a free one and the price has to be carefully considered before attempting the biggest trade in the young franchise’s history.
Everyone knows it’s rare to receive everything on any wish list, but just a couple of the points above being accomplished can significantly point the season’s trajectory upwards for Nashville.