Preds 1/3 Of The Way Through The Season

Friday, 12.09.2011 / 1:05 PM
By Tom Callahan - Nashville Predators / Tom Callahan's 2011-12 Season Blog
We’ve reached roughly the one-third point of the season by now, and in reflection it’s certainly been a year of ups and downs.

I think that when you look back on things as a whole, you realize that it’s almost been typical early-season Nashville with a few exceptions. For the most part the team struggled a bit early and tried to find an identity for itself. It’s a team based around defense always, but there are different ways to execute D based on the talents assembled. Goaltending is always a must-have for the Predators. And goals aren’t always easy to find.

What has been different for this edition of the Predators is the reliance on younger players. Last summer served as a veteran clearinghouse for the Preds, who, after getting solid performances out of many younger players down the stretch and into the playoffs, were confident enough to make those moves. While almost all prospects had spent time in Milwaukee, the team’s roster was still the youngest in the NHL on Opening Night (thanks in part to Francis Bouillon starting the year on IR). Sometimes that youth has an energy that is hard to overcome and it can help bail the team out. Sometimes it is also accompanied by a dose of inexperience that can hurt you.

Moving forward much will depend on continuing the maturity process for the players involved and jelling more as the season lengthens. Last night’s win in Columbus can serve as the kind of victory that binds a team and lights a fire within. It can also appear as a flash in the pan. I’m hoping that the Predators can use the momentum going forward and confidence taken from that game in many situations down the road. It’s not going to be easy, but it will be important for this team to know it can win when it works hard.

Three questions that need to be answered over the rest of the season:
  1. Can the top six forward bring the energy, emotion and enthusiasm needed to be constant scoring threats?
  2. Can Pekka Rinne shake off the mini-slump he just endured and once again help the Preds put on a playoff push?
  3. Will the youngsters be able to find a solid level of consistency and once again contribute in a major way?

Moving forward, three players to keep an eye on:
  1. Craig Smith – Currently the team's leading scorer, can he continue to put points on the board throughout the grind of his first full NHL campaign?
  2. Jonathon Blum/Kevin Klein – Can they turn around tough starts on defense and improve plus/minus ratings? Blum and Klein were a key pairing for the Preds during last year's playoff run, providing a reliability when Suter and Weber weren't on the ice.
  3. Martin Erat – He’s always put up points in bunches, but can this be the year he finds a groove?

So get ready for the Ducks on Saturday, and we’ll see you at the rink!

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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