Kukla's Korner

Opening a six-pack after a loss

In light of that disappointing 5-3 loss last night against Detroit, here is a six-pack of thoughts on the state of the Nashville Predators:

1. The Preds have typically been over-loaded with defensive (read: limited offensively, but hard-working) forwards, but Joel Ward is clearly separating himself as a two-way player from the rest of the pack.  Among the Preds who are eligible for Unrestricted Free Agency this summer, only he and Greg Zanon have made their case for another contract.

2. Speaking of upcoming UFA’s, Toronto GM Brian Burke has made it clear that Nik Antropov has no future with the Maple Leafs.  Submitted for your Nashville Predators Question of the Week: Should the Preds look at the big Russian for some offensive punch down the stretch?

3. Pekka Rinne continues to play well, but unlike a certain Tennessean columnist who just started to attend Predators games once again, I wouldn’t proclaim him the #1 guy and ride him down the stretch just yet.  The NHL in recent years has been littered with young goalies who got off to great starts and flamed out during their second tour around the league, as Paul McCann noted during his Hockeybuzz Radio show Monday.  This team is still going to need Dan Ellis if they’re going to make a playoff run.

4. For Nashville fans who, like me, were surprised to hear generic ESPN programming on 106.7 FM during the afternoon this week, the station has switched entirely over to “network programming”, meaning all ESPN all the time (yawn).  Thom Abraham is moving over to 560 AM (WNSR) starting next Monday for a weekday noon-3:00 show, which is good news for Preds fans; Abraham can talk up the game of hockey better than most in the Nashville market, and along with the extended pre-game shows and the aforementioned HockeyBuzz Radio, WNSR is establishing themselves as a major source of hockey talk in Nashville.

5. It’s time to face an unfortunate truth: while it’s great to see Steve Sullivan on the ice again, he’s just not able to make a positive contribution at even strength right now.  He needs to have his EV ice time severely limited, and focus more on special teams play (which makes more sense than dressing a fighter to skate 5-8 minutes a game). Take a look at the following Even Strength numbers from Behind the Net:

SHEA WEBERD 5216.487.200.78
KEVIN KLEIND 3411.64.6-0.150.78
GREG ZANOND 5315.54-10.2-0.150.51
JOEL WARDRW5011.3-3.8-0.110.5
JEAN-PIERRE DUMONTRW5313.114.1-0.170.44
JASON ARNOTTC 4713.344.1-0.290.32
ANTTI PIHLSTROMLW3011.3514.8-0.180.28
MARTIN ERATRW5013.392.8-0.63-0.17
DAVID LEGWANDC 5312.85-1.1-0.62-0.19
SCOTT NICHOLC 277.98-17.6-0.28-0.21
JERRED SMITHSONC 5310.29-8.4-0.66-0.23
RADEK BONKC 5111.87-8.2-0.69-0.3
RYAN SUTERD 5316.576.4-0.68-0.32
VERNON FIDDLERC 499.85-5-0.87-0.45
JORDIN TOOTOORW4511.47-0.5-0.93-0.49
PATRIC HORNQVISTLW1910.52-1.8-0.3-0.58
DAN HAMHUISD 5316.17-7.5-0.91-0.67
GREG DE VRIESD 4313.84-6.8-1.41-1.46
STEVE SULLIVANC 1212.54-14-3.19-3.78

Corsi: The net of Total Shots (including Blocked & Missed) for and against while that player is on the ice, expressed per 60 minutes of play.
+-ON/60: Goals For - Goals Against per 60 minutes of play.
Rating: Each player’s individual +-ON/60, compared to the team’s performance when he’s not on the ice.  A measure of indivdual impact on Plus/Minus.

6. That Corsi column helps explain why Antti Pihlstrom remains up in the NHL, despite an astounding lack of offensive production.  Heck, Zanon has more Points Per Game (0.17) than Pihlstrom does (0.16).

Filed in: Nashville Predators, NHL Statistical Analysis, | On the Forecheck | Permalink


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