If you are a hockey team riding a winning streak and playing great hockey, sometimes a four day holiday break isn’t all that welcome.
But if you are a hockey team riding a losing streak and struggling to stay competitive in games, it’s not only welcome, it’s necessary.
The latter is definitely the case for the Nashville Predators.
How bad is it for the Predators right now? Here’s a quick rundown:
- 4 straight losses
- 10 straight road losses
- only 3 wins in their last 9 games
- only 7 points of the last 18 possible
In addition to all that, they’ve lost their lead in the Western Conference and the Central Division. The Jets have the lead now with 50 points, four points more than the Preds, and they have a game in hand.
It’s still early to be worried about the standings, but the Preds are definitely not in the same comfortable position they saw themselves in back in November.
So all of that is one big reason the Preds should welcome the holiday break with open arms. It’s a chance to go home, reset their minds, get back to basics, then come back on Thursday ready to roll.
The other big reason is injuries. Again, here’s the rundown:
- Viktor Arvidsson, out since Nov 11th (thumb)
- P.K. Subban, out since Nov 14th (upper body)
- Filip Forsberg, out since Dec 1st (hand)
- Colton Sissons, out since Dec 19th (ankle)
That’s a huge, huge list of injuries. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: not many teams can lose nearly an entire All-Star lineup (except for Sissons) for a month and be the same team as before.
The team is missing nearly $20 million (about 20%) of its payroll. No wonder they’ve struggled.
With the holiday break, those guys get a few more days rest and the team is a few days closer to being back to full strength. Viktor Arvidsson and P.K. Subban have been skating, so that’s a good sign. Though there are no guarantees, I’d say it is likely that at least one of those guys makes it back into the lineup next week.
Five Quick Thoughts
- Regardless of the outcomes on the ice, not all of the Preds play has been bad. I go into that in a tweet thread here. Basically, their expected goals differential has been decent over the last month–better even than back in November when they were actually winning games.
- My instinct is that of all the players on IR right now, Filip Forsberg would make the most difference upon his return. He was riding a career high .54 goals per game before he went down with a hand injury.
- I’m a bit worried that the coaching staff might have reverted to “start Pekka Rinne whenever possible” mode since Juuse Saros hasn’t been as strong in relief. This could lead to potential problems down the road. Hopefully Saros rights the ship and we see more of a balance.
- I still think the Jets might win the Central, or even perhaps the regular season Western Conference. The offense they bring, their physical defense, and the play of Connor Hellebuyck, all of it makes them a tough team over 82 games.
- Finally: if you are one that is calling for Peter Laviolette’s job over a stretch of poor games in December when the team is missing three of their best players… I really don’t know if I can help you. Maybe go to the nearest grocery store and buy an extra large bag of Perspective.
GIF Me That Good Stuff
There weren’t many enjoyable moments this week, but this bank pass by Craig Smith and subsequent one-timer from Ryan Johansen was easily the best.
Beautifully timed shot off the bank right here from @RyanJohansen19.
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) December 22, 2018
Let’s Do That Hockey
Thursday 12/27 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Stars [FS-TN]
Saturday 12/29 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Rangers [FS-TN]
No final thought this week. Just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays! Hope you are able to be with those important to you this season.