The Nashville Predators have lost 20 games this season, 28, if you count overtime losses.
It’s a surprising number if you simply scan their roster. Most hardcore fans would argue that the Predators’ efforts and performance on the ice don’t translate to their 24-20-8 record.
For a large chunk of the season, the Predators have done more right than wrong. At the end of the day however, they have still found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard more often than not.
Things The Predators Are Doing Well
All statistics represent 5-on-5 playing situations unless otherwise noted.
Outshooting The Opposition
The Predators have managed to out shoot their opponent in 30 of their 52 games played this season. In those games, though, they have managed to post a record of just 11-14-5. Eight times, the Predators have tallied 40 or more shots on net. Unfortunately, they have won just once, going 1-7-0.
Outchancing The Opposition
The Predators are outshooting their foes more often than not, but they are also out chancing them as well. Nashville sits third in the NHL behind the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars with a Scoring Chances For percentage of 54.0 percent. More specifically, they have recorded 1,067 scoring chances while allowing just 910 for the league’s third best Scoring Chances +/- of 157.
Allowing Few Scoring Chances
When it comes to limiting the opposition to scoring chances, aka “more dangerous” shot attempts, no team in the NHL has done it better than Nashville this season.
The Predators top the league in allowing just 22.1 scoring chances per contest. As far as their scoring chances allowed total of 910 they sit only behind the Anaheim Ducks in that department.
Possessing The Puck
To outshoot and outchance your opponent it helps to possess the puck, and Nashville has done that in spades.
The Predators Corsi For per 60 minutes (all shot attempts) of 56.8 is the eighth best in the league with a Corsi differential of 323 that sits third in the NHL. Their Fenwick For per 60 minutes (unblocked shot attempts) ranks seventh in the league, at 42.0.
Power Play Clicking
Another aspect of Nashville’s game this season that you can’t blame for their issues is their power play. The Predators hold the ninth best power play percentage at 19.8 percent.
The addition of Ryan Johansen has helped them remain a top 10 power play team with three power play goals and three assists in his 12 games played in a Nashville sweater.
Scoring Chances Allowed While On The Penalty Kill
Nashville’s penalty kill may rank in the bottom half of the league, but more on that in a bit. As far as giving up scoring chances while on the penalty kill, they have been the league’s second best at suppressing scoring chances with just 148 on the year.
They have allowed the fewest high-danger chances while on the penalty kill with just 57.
The Predators haven’t been stellar in the face-off circle, but they certainly haven’t been bad either. They rank 11th in the league with a faceoff percentage of 50.5 percent.
It is also worth noting that they have 784 offensive zone starts which is the eighth most among all NHL teams this season.
Things The Predators Are Doing Poorly
As a team, the Predators rank 17th with 130 goals scored on the year and also 17th in all situation goals per 60 minutes, at 2.5. Nashville’s forwards have been accountable for just 93 goals which is the second fewest among all other forward groups in the NHL. This leaves the defensemen accountable for 37 goals with Shea Weber leading the way with 13.
Creating Scoring Chances
The Predators may be out chancing and out shooting their opponents more often than not but they have created just the 15th most scoring chances in the league with 1,067.
A team with the likes of Norris Trophy caliber defenders in Roman Josi and Weber backed up by the duo of Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis plus the top line of Filip Forsberg, James Neal and Johansen should be in the top third of the NHL at least. Hopefully, the recent acquisition of Johansen helps them in this department.
The Predators’ shooting percentage of 8.16 percent gives them the ninth worst team shooting percentage in the NHL.
As far as personal shooting percentages, here are a few key players’ percentages through 52 games this year and 52 games last year:
James Neal: 10.5 % vs 10.8 %
Filip Forsberg: 8.8 % vs 11.0 %
Craig Smith: 8.8 % vs 8.0 %
Mike Ribeiro: 12.2% vs 20.8 %
Colin Wilson: 1.7 % vs 14.3 %
Mike Fisher: 7.1 % vs 13.3 %
Shea Weber: 4.1 % vs 7.7 %
Roman Josi: 3.8 % vs 7.1 %
Keeping The Puck Out Of Their Own Net
The Predators have allowed 137 goals this season, 12th most in the league. While Pekka Rinne has been under plenty of scrutiny this season, and deservedly so, there have been plenty of games where the team has let him down defensively.
Still, Rinne is just 19-17-6 and carries the sixth worst save percentage among goalies with at least 800 minutes played — 0.904. When it comes to making the crucial saves, those of the high-danger variety, he has the third worst save percentage among the same set of net minders at 0.765 in all situations. When it comes to shorthanded situations, Rinne’s adjusted save percentage of 0.832 is the sixth worst among all goaltenders to man an NHL crease this season.
The penalty kill has been another sore spot for this year’s Predators as they rank 24th in the league at 79.1 percent. While they allow very few scoring chances while on the penalty kill, Rinne hasn’t been able to stop the puck as often as needed and it has cost the Predators dearly.
While they have been clicking as of late, allowing just one power play goal in their last eight games (95.7%), they may have dug too deep of a hole to climb out.
Ultimately, the Predators have done more right than wrong this season but can’t seem to end the night with a win. Their PDO – which measures luck and should hover around 1.000 – is the second worst in the league at 0.982, making them the second most unlucky team in the NHL. For a comparison, their PDO a season ago was 0.999.
If they want to win, it will depend on how Rinne performs in net and if they can start lighting the lamp. They hold on to the final Western Conference wild card spot headed into February 6th’s action, but right now, certainly don’t seem to be a legitimate threat to compete for a Stanley Cup.
All stats via War On Ice.