The Nashville Predators have returned to the ice for the 2019-20 season, so it’s time for the return of the Weekly Edge, a regular column where I recap the biggest stories on and off the ice for the Preds and hockey in general.
When I started this column last year, I wasn’t sure what form it would take. I enjoy being able to sound off on the previous week and set the stage for the upcoming week, but I also enjoy adding features like “GIF Me That Good Stuff” and “Quote of the Week” and so forth. I have some good ideas for features in this year’s iteration, so keep an eye out for that.
Check back to A to Z Sports Nashville every Monday for the Weekly Edge to get set for your hockey week.
Preds offense off to a great start
The most significant change in the offseason, exchanging P.K. Subban for Matt Duchene, has paid off for the Preds so far.
In two games, the offense looks more capable of keeping the Preds in games than the defense did over the last couple seasons. Not that the offense is perfect, but with the new top six, you never feel like the Preds are incapable of a comeback (something they’ve had to do twice so far already).
Matt Duchene is a big part of that. With five assists in the first two games, he is as advertised. Fast, dynamic, great vision, great offensive instincts, and he helps create space in the zone for other capable scorers like Filip Forsberg and Mikael Granlund.
We’ve still yet to see Ryan Johansen emerge the same top line center he was last year, but I think it’s coming. For some unknown reason, Johansen was dead last in even strength time on ice on Thursday’s game. Could it have been an undisclosed illness? Did he tweak something during the game, but not leave? Did the coaching staff just like other matchups better?
Hard to tell, but I’m not sure it means much. Johansen saw a significant jump in his ice time on Saturday against the Red Wings and he still has two assists in two games, so it’s not like he’s not contributing.
Preds defense in transition
Whenever you lose a Norris Trophy winning defenseman, your defense suffers a little bit.
Hot take, I know.
But I am a little bit surprised the Preds’ defense looks this out of sorts early on. After all, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis have played over 1900 minutes at even strength together over the last two years, by far the most of any pairing on the team. And Mattias Ekholm brings a wealth of experience in helping to mentor Dante Fabbro.
In all honesty, the real problem has been the third pairing of Dan Hamhuis and Yannick Weber. In 23 minutes at even strength so far, those two have been on the ice for three goals, which leads the team among defensive pairings. They were especially bad against Detroit on Saturday, getting overrun by the Wings’ top line of Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, and Tyler Bertuzzi multiple times.
I should also point out that Juuse Saros did not have a good start in that game and probably let in at least one goal he shouldn’t, but the Wings had their share of dangerous opportunities courtesy of bad plays by the Predators’ defense.
Give it time. The defense will come around.
And if it doesn’t? The offense will keep the team in plenty of games, so it might not matter.
Quote of the Week
“Oh, he had three? I thought he only had two. Wow.”
-Captain Roman Josi when told about Matt Duchene’s number of assists on opening night against the Minnesota Wild
GIF Me That Good Stuff
In my 20 plus years watching hockey, I have never seen this.
Look at Rocco Grimaldi hanging on for dear life while Mattias Ekholm scored a goal.
Hockey is so weird sometimes.
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) October 6, 2019
I didn’t even realize you could do this and it still count as a goal! Haha, wild.
Let’s Do That Hockey
- Tuesday October 8th vs. San Jose Sharks (7:00 PM; NBCSN)
- Thursday October 10th vs. Washington Capitals (7:00 PM; FSTN)
- Saturday October 12th @ Los Angeles Kings (5:00 PM; FSTN)
One of the biggest stories of this opening week had to do with ice and hockey and Nashville, but nothing to do with the Predators themselves. And honestly, it kind of soured the whole thing.
On Thursday night’s opener, a modified pedal tavern rolled onto the ice during the 2nd intermission of the game. It was filled with your typical “woo!” customers, who all seemed to be having a good time.
But the pedal tavern was not well received, to put it lightly. A very dismissive Bridgestone Arena audience made their voice heard (there were a lot more “boos” than cheers) and the Twitter mob came out in full force as well.
You were asking “can we?” when you should have been asking “should we?”
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) October 4, 2019
I could spend more than few hundred words on why pedal taverns, and other forms of so-called “transportainment” are a nuisance and a safety issue in downtown Nashville. Not to mention tacky.
And, based on the reaction from fans in the building and online, I am not alone in feeling that way (it was much the same reaction on Saturday night when the Preds brought it out again).
So when the team decides that it would be hilarious to bring out the one thing that really pisses off native and transplant Nashvillians (i.e., not tourists), and then act like it’s all a big joke, that’s losing a little bit of your audience.
The Nashville Predators would do well to shelve the pedal tavern. The presence of this awful thing was enough to ruin opening weekend in Nashville and I am hoping we don’t see this become a regular occurrence.
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —