The Nashville Predators are not in a great place right now.
Sure, they are still in 2nd place in the Central and sure, they’ve still got a talented roster. But in going 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and in losing three straight Central Division games by a combined score of 12-3, the Predators are not heading in the right direction.
With 15 games left in the regular season, there’s still time left to right the ship. Here’s two changes that could help get this team back on track.
Demote Kyle Turris
Simply put, Kyle Turris has been awful this year. Yes, he has been injured. We don’t know how healthy he really is out there, but he’s still getting around 15 minutes per night. To be skating that much, he had better be healthy.
Turris has 20 points in 42 games. He’s only put up two points since coming back from injury on February 7th. He’s on pace for his worst season since he was a 21-year-old with the Phoenix Coyotes.
It’s time to send a real message to Turris. Bumping him down to either the 3rd line or even the 4th line (he was demoted to the 3rd line during the Jets game on Friday, with Sissons as his replacement) would at least show him the coaching staff isn’t happy with his play.
Newcomer Mikael Granlund looked decent in his first game on Friday and probably needs to be the main distributor on that line. Once Craig Smith is back, putting Granlund with Smith and Calle Jarnkrok would be a good combination.
Start Juuse Saros More
I wrote about this last week. Now it’s time to double down.
Again, this isn’t about Pekka Rinne necessarily. But at this point, Saros has been the better goalie over the last month. The team needs a goalie back there they can trust with regularity. Rinne hasn’t been bad but Saros has been better.
His performance against the Blues on Tuesday was simply stunning, stopping 42 of 43 shots in the Preds’ 2-0 loss. Without him, that’s easily a 4-0 or 5-0 blowout.
Additionally, this will give Rinne the rest he needs down the stretch. A well rested Rinne will be much more prepared for his starting role in Game 1 of the playoffs.
Five Quick Thoughts
- The power play is still shooting a league worst 8.8%, but has looked a bit better recently. Two goals in the last five games is progress, I guess.
- Viktor Arvidsson is still the most reliable and energetic forward on the team. He can do no wrong right now.
- Since I mentioned Saros, here’s his last 10 games: 5-3-1, .933 save percentage, 2.20 goals allowed average.
- Roman Josi is having a good season, but he is taking more penalties than usual. He’s currently on pace for his highest PIMs per game in his career (0.54).
- I know the Winnipeg Jets feel like the better team right now, but this series is a lot more even than people want to admit:
Home team: 7-8-0
Also, 104 goals scored in those games (6.9 goals per game).
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) March 2, 2019
GIF Me That Good Stuff
Wayne Simmonds, you’ll fit in nicely around here.
Welcome to the #Preds-Jets rivalry, Wayne.
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) March 2, 2019
Let’s Do That Hockey
Sunday 3/3 – 6:30 PM: Predators @ Wild [NBCSN]
Tuesday 3/5 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Wild [NBCSN]
Saturday 3/9 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Hurricanes [FS-TN]
We still don’t know what’s wrong with Craig Smith, but all signs point to him returning to the lineup against the Wild tonight or on Tuesday. If that’s the case, I like these lines with Smith in the lineup:
Filip Forsberg – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson
Calle Jarnkrok – Mikael Granlund – Craig Smith
Nick Bonino – Kyle Turris – Wayne Simmonds
Rocco Grimaldi – Colton Sissons – Brian Boyle
First, it gives Granlund good minutes in the middle of the ice with a “shoot-first” winger in Smith on one side and a defensively responsible winger in Jarnkrok on the other side. It also allows Turris to take a step back from trying to be an offensive pivot and just focus on defense for a while.
I also like Boyle with Grimaldi. That sort of balance in size and speed with Sissons at center could give opposing forwards matchup issues.
Whatever happens with Smith, the Predators need to find a combination that works quickly. Peter Laviolette is running out of time to get the team’s chemistry up where it needs to be heading into the playoffs.
— Featured image via Terrence Lee/USA TODAY Sports —