Kukla's Korner

Riding to the rescue

Quoth John Glennon at the Tennessean:

The Predators will be looking to both the past and the future as they seek to rediscover their long-lost offense following the NHL All-Star break.

In practice Monday, their first after six off days, the Predators reunited one of the more successful lines in franchise history -

Yes folks, you know what that means…

J.P. Dumont, Jason Arnott, and Steve Sullivan of the Nashville Predators

Battered, bruised, and armed with merely a popgun offense of late, the Predators are putting J.P. Dumont, Jason Arnott, and Steve Sullivan back together again in an attempt to generate consistent scoring chances.

Yesterday, I looked at Nashville’s centers to try and see if the lack of goal-scoring might be due to the loss of Scott Nichol stretching the team’s depth down the middle. It appears, however, that in terms of overall Shots For and Against, the Predators are doing just fine; the problem is that once they’re in the offensive zone, the snipers just aren’t burying those golden opportunities, and it seems like that home game against Vancouver on December 9 (when Nichol got hurt, J.P. Dumont got run by Alex Burrows, and Shea Weber got boarded from behind in a 3-0 loss) was the turning point:

 Before Dec. 9Dec. 9 & After
 PlayerGSMSBSSht %Tot Sht %GSMSBSSht %Tot Sht %
 Wade Belak04000.0%0.0%06410.0%0.0%
 Martin Erat521141319.2%9.4%42491314.3%8.0%
 David Legwand3358107.9%5.4%327111110.0%5.8%
 Scott Nichol3174615.0%10.0%      
 Radek Bonk027680.0%0.0%1224154.3%2.4%
 Jason Arnott937171619.6%11.4%1251293.8%2.1%
 Jordin Tootoo34221226.7%3.4%13613132.7%1.6%
 Jerred Smithson112647.7%4.3%2166711.1%6.5%
 Steve Sullivan      07320.0%0.0%
 Patric Hornqvist230586.3%4.4%      
 Ryan Jones114646.7%4.0%135825.0%5.9%
 Joel Ward1261773.7%2.0%1231274.2%2.3%
 Rich Peverley117555.6%3.6%117855.6%3.2%
 Vern Fiddler23211115.9%3.6%41914817.4%8.9%
 Antti Pihlstrom 13650.0%0.0%03511120.0%0.0%
 Mike Santorelli      09150.0%0.0%
 J.P. Dumont631251616.2%7.7%1271193.6%2.1%
 Forward Totals373581511359.4%5.4%202961241256.3%3.5%

G = Goals
S = Shots saved by the opposing goalie
MS = Missed Shots
BS = Shots Blocked by opponents
Sht % = Shooting Percentage
Tot Sht % = Goals scored as a percentage of Total Shots (G+S+MS+BS)
Stats courtesy of TimeOnIce.com

The basic story is told right there at the bottom; as a group, the forwards were scoring on 9.4% of shots early on (a roughly average NHL rate), whereas since then, it’s plummeted to 6.3%.  That just ain’t getting it done, folks.

What this calls for is a combination of skill and determination, which would appear to be behind the new line combinations that are being talked about.  Dumont-Arnott-Sullivan should be able to bring constant pressure, while the callup of Ryan Jones means that Nashville once again has at least one forward who will drive relentlessly to the front of the net to bury the tough goals (and if he draws a penalty from the opposition while doing so, all the better).

Nashville’s tailspin started with that awful home loss to Vancouver seven weeks ago, and Wednesday night they enter GM Place for their last matchup with the Canucks during this regular season.  If the Predators can pull off a big road victory, they might just exorcise some demons along the way.

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


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