In case you missed it, the Nashville Predators are off to a great start.
In two wins in New York, several well loved stars for the Preds stood out. Filip Forsberg and P.K. Subban helped fuel the win over the Rangers. Then Viktor Arvidsson scored two goals in the win over the Islanders, including an absolute stunner in the first period. And, of course, Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros both played well enough in goal to preserve the wins.
But one player who might not be getting enough credit for the Preds first two wins is Craig Smith.
Here’s Craig Smith’s place on the team in several key advanced stats through two games:
- Shots (1st)
- Scoring chances (1st)
- Shot attempts (2nd)
- High danger chances (1st)
- Shot attempts for per sixty minutes (2nd)
- High danger chances per sixty minutes (2nd)
In short, he’s been the most consistent and the most dangerous offensive player on the ice for the Preds at even strength. And his production isn’t bad either, getting a goal and assist so far.
The Preds desperately need another winger in the top six not named Filip Forsberg to provide a scoring threat every night. In my post last week, I suggested that Kevin Fiala should be that scoring threat. But perhaps I sold Craig Smith short, as he looks every bit of the scoring threat the Preds need through two games.
GIF Me That Good Stuff
There’s not really any other option. It’s this insane play by Viktor Arvidsson. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be.
Well, Viktor Arvidsson just scored the goal of the year for the #Preds.
In the 2nd game. pic.twitter.com/HYzxYDqjbR
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) October 6, 2018
This Week’s Number: 118
That’s the number of career goals for Filip Forsberg.
I’ll add this: he only needs 45 more goals to equal the number of goals Martin Erat scored in Nashville.
Thanks, George McPhee.
Let’s Do That Hockey
The Preds have three home games this week. Welcome back to Smashville!
Tuesday 10/9 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Flames [home, FS-TN]
Thursday 10/11 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Jets [home, FS-TN]
Saturday 10/13 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Islanders [home, FS-TN]
As much as Preds fans would like to be happy with the Preds taking four points in two games in New York, there is a whole lot of work to go.
And it starts this week.
First, the Preds have to contend with an explosive Flames team that’s scored nine goals in two games. I like the Preds chances in this one, but you can never be too careful with a confident road team coming to face a team about to raise a banner in front of their home crowd. If the Preds come out flat, the Flames could put up two or three quick goals, which could put a damper on the celebration.
Then, the big test. The newly minted rival Winnipeg Jets come into town for the first time since winning Game 7 in the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Preds were outscored 27-19 in the series and really looked overmatched, despite the series going seven games. Too many mistakes, too many penalties, poor goaltending, poor offensive strategy, poor special teams… all of it contributed to a very disappointing 2nd round exit for the Preds.
But this isn’t exactly the same Jets team.
One of the biggest pieces of last year’s Jets playoff team was Paul Stastny, who the Jets acquired from the Blues in February. In the series with the Preds, Stastny had 10 points, including five goals. Two of those goals were game-winners.
Though the Jets forward group is awfully difficult, with guys like Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, and Mark Sheifele, Stastny was a real difference maker. He was that missing presence down the middle that could really make the Jets a dangerous offensive team. With him in the lineup, matchups were a nightmare.
But Stastny left for the Vegas Golden Knights and the Jets are having to once again find balance in their forward group.
With that said, the Nashville Predators have a great chance at home to right some wrongs from last May. While it is just a regular season game in October, I’d like to think they will be ready.
— Featured image via USA Today —