As the Nashville Predators enter the 2nd quarter of the NHL season, they sit somewhat comfortably at the top of the NHL standings. However, given the recent injury news, they will also soon face their biggest adversity of the season.
On Sunday, the team announced Kyle Turris would go on injured reserve, joining teammates Viktor Arvidsson and P.K. Subban. Turris left Friday’s game against the Blues with what appeared to be a left arm injury. The Predators officially qualified the injury as “upper body.”
Kyle Turris brings a lot to the Predators lineup. Since he was acquired last November, he has slid into the 2nd line center role nicely, helping Kevin Fiala reach career numbers in goals and assists last year, while also rejuvenating Craig Smith.
Add to this the loss of Viktor Arvidsson (6-8 weeks with a broken thumb) and P.K. Subban (undisclosed upper body injury), and you’ve got over $19 million in salary cap hit on injured reserve for the Preds. Obviously, that’s a huge chunk of talent that won’t be around for the foreseeable future.
Dan Hamhuis has also missed time with injury and briefly left the Blues game on Friday as well.
While we don’t know the prognosis or severity of the Subban or Turris injuries, it’s safe to say that the Predators will be without three of their most important players for at least a few weeks. Depending on how the Preds perform in those few weeks, it could be even longer.
In the meantime, the Preds could be looking at a drastically different lineup for the time being. Here were the Sunday morning skate rushes according to Brooks Bratten:
#Preds a.m. skate rushes:
— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) November 25, 2018
Every forward line looks significantly different, but perhaps none more so than the top line. Adding Austin Watson to a line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg is certainly an odd move, as Watson is not close to the same puck mover that Forsberg and Johansen are. His physicality should be an interesting addition, but you wonder if the top line will become more of a two man show for the time being.
Also the promotion of Calle Jarnkrok to 2nd line center is interesting. When Nick Bonino was signed in the summer of 2017, David Poile indicated that he would be the team’s de facto 2nd line center. Soon after, the Preds traded for Kyle Turris. Now, with Turris out, Jarnkrok takes over in that spot. It’s safe to say the team is not getting the production out of Bonino that they hoped for, particularly at the offensive end,
All the Predators have to do is navigate this injury mess without too much damage in the standings. The Preds are not likely to maintain their league lead with the injuries they’ve sustained, but they should still be ok. The best they can hope for is to still be in a comfortable playoff position by the time they finally get healthy.
GIF Me That Good Stuff
Meanwhile, Mattias Ekholm helped save the day against the Lightning last Monday. I can’t get enough of this save.
Mattias Ekholm to the rescue. #Preds
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) November 20, 2018
This Week’s Numbers
- 20 – the number of players with at least one goal for the Preds in 2018-19 so far.
- 25 – the number of players with at least one goal for the Preds in all of 2017-18.
- 2.39 – the number of goals allowed per game for the Preds (tied for 1st in the league)
- 52.6 – the Preds’ faceoff win percentage (3rd in the league)
Let’s Do That Hockey
Sunday 11/25 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Ducks [FS-TN]
Tuesday 11/27 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Avalanche [FS-TN]
Thursday 11/29 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Coyotes [FS-TN]
Saturday 12/1 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Blackhawks [FS-TN]
Amid all the complaining about the power play, the other half of the Preds’ special teams has quietly been one of the team’s strengths. Currently, the Preds boast an 82.2% success rate, which is good for 7th best in the league. For a team that was missing one of their best penalty killers, Austin Watson, for most of the year, that’s pretty solid.
But the penalty kill unit has been even better over the last few weeks. Since November 1st, the Preds have allowed only three power play goals in 57 shorthanded minutes. That’s 2nd only to the Sharks, who have allowed two goals in 49 minutes.
For the most part, the key pieces of the Preds’ penalty kill are the same as last year. Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, and P.K. Subban round out the defenseman shorthanded minutes. In front of them, Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons, and Nick Bonino get the most shorthanded minutes among the forwards. Occasionally, usually at the end of the shift, the coaches will throw Johansen, Forsberg, or Arvidsson out there.
Courtesy of Hockeyviz.com, here’s a look at where the Preds are limiting opposing power plays. Dark green spots are areas of success for the penalty kill, while dark purple spots are where opposing power plays get the most success.
Looking at this, opposing power plays really don’t have a lot of room to work. The Preds are doing a great job limiting chances in the slot and high in the circle. While there is a bright purple spot in front of the Nashville net, remember these are unblocked shot attempts. Not many shots are likely to be blocked from there, you just hope your goalie can do his job with chances right in front.
All seven of the top penalty killers for the Preds do a great job of limiting space for the opposing power play. While Sissons and Jarnkrok are both very aggressive at the blueline working to deny entry, Ellis and Josi are excellent at fighting for possession in the corners and getting clearances.
Especially with the recent injuries, it will be important for the Predators to continue getting such production out of their penalty kill.
— Stats from Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com. Featured image via Shanna Lockwood/USA TODAY Sports —