by Forechecker on 10/30/08 at 11:02 AM ET
You want diversity?
Check out the Nashville Predators.
No, I’m not talking about Joel Ward or Jordin Tootoo representing various ethnic minorities. The Nashville offensive attack might just be the most diverse in the NHL right now. They’ve managed to score at least 3 goals in every game since the opening loss in St. Louis, and that kind of momentum helps to keep the whole lineup jumping; after only 8 games, 18 different players have scored at least one goal, with the only regulars excluded being Dan Hamhuis and Vern Fiddler. Most teams have somewhere between 10 and 14 goal scorers at this point.
This gang of lamp-lighters will need to keep ‘em coming with Edmonton coming to town tonight…
Some may find it hard to get excited about the Oilers coming to town on here in October, but it’s likely that these two teams will battle down the stretch for playoff positioning, so points earned now are just as crucial as those on the line in March.
While neither team is burning up the standings so far, what’s odd is that each team is performing like the other was expected. Nashville was supposed to play tight defensively and struggle to score goals, while Edmonton was expected to play more of a firewagon type of game.
So far, though? If you look at combined average Goals For and Against per game, Edmonton ranks near the bottom at 5.00, while Nashville has the 2nd-highest mark in the NHL at 7.22. Covered in Oil, one of the many, many fine members of the Oilogosphere, broke down the Oilers recent failings, an 0-3-1 stretch that followed a 4-0 start. Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish ripped his team pretty harshly, and while some of the quotes were typical coach speak, like:
“We’re trying to be too cute.”
“We’re not aggressive enough on the attack.”
“We’re not going to the tough areas to score goals. That’s basically it.”
“We’ve been looking a long time for easy offence. We’re not getting any.”
This one, for me, is a real doozy:
“I was expecting a lot more. I’ve seen enough now to no longer have those expectations.”
That’s a damning statement about one’s team, and I could see the Oilers responding either of two ways; in the first case, guys could be offended and tune the coach out, angling for a ticket out of Alberta, or secondly, they’ll respond to this as a challenge and try to seize the opportunity for a larger role on what many project to be a playoff team.
On the surface, this looks like a game the Predators should win; an opponent with just as many sparkles and warts as them is coming into town to begin a 7-game road trip. Their power play is performing decently, but as mc79hockey points out, there’s good reason to believe a dropoff is coming. The Oilers aren’t consistently generating enough PP shots, and are getting by on a surprisingly high shooting percentage. It’s likely that at some point the shooting percentage will return to normal levels, and when that happens Edmonton might have an even harder time scoring goals. So far the Preds have done solid work at home killing penalties, so this is clearly an opportunity they need to take advantage of.
Again, this is the type of game the Predators should win, especially with Jason Arnott back in the lineup and scoring goals. Dan Ellis is supposedly coming off a strong game in Washington Tuesday night (or so I heard), and keeping his confidence up is absolutely essential to the success of the team.
By the way, “Pregnant Cabbage” is a reference to an old college buddy of mine who always seemed to hear things incorrectly. While not a sports fan himself, the rest of our house was packed with hockey nuts, and one time he walked by as we were talking about the Oilers and Craig MacTavish. He stopped in his tracks, with a puzzled look on his face, and asked, “what are you guys talking about? A pregnant cabbage?”
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