It was an interesting week for the Nashville Predators. It started with a tough 3-2 loss on the road to the Chicago Blackhawks, handing the team their fourth straight loss in regulation.
It was the same story for Nashville out of the gates in their Thursday matchup in Winnipeg against the Jets in which they found themselves down 3-1 after two periods of play and 4-1 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Then, the comeback began.
The Predators battled back and managed to tie things up courtesy of a James Neal goal with 13 seconds left in regulation. The Jets took the win in the overtime period, but the same jump and drive seen by Nashville to begin the year seemed to have returned.
To close the week, in what was their first home contest since January 5 as well as Ryan Johansen’s home debut. The Predators shut out the Minnesota Wild, giving them their first regulation win of 2016.
The following are the player grades for the Predators, with a “10” signifying a perfect week, 9 extraordinary, 8 great, 7 good, 6 above average, 5 average, 4 just below average, 3 poor, 2 awful and 1 being the absolute worst. The lines presented below replicate those seen in Nashville’s most recent game.
These grades represent play from Sunday, January 10 to Sunday, January 17.
James Neal, 7: He could have easily earned a higher rating this week, but he did rack up six penalty minutes in the overtime loss to the Jets. Yes, he did have a goal and a helper in the same game but Winnipeg capitalized on one of his three minor penalties. He also had an assist in the shutout win over the Wild and had an impressive week in the shots on goal category with 13.
Ryan Johansen, 9: There is not much to say about Johansen other than since joining the Predators he has been superb. In what was his first full week with the team he had one goal and four assists with his biggest game coming against the Jets with one goal and two assists. He carried a 57.7 percent Corsi For through the three games as well.
Kevin Fiala, 7: The 19-year-old made his season debut with the Predators in Winnipeg and made an impact quick, scoring a goal just 59 seconds into the game. That would be his lone point in his two games played this week, but there is an obvious chemistry between Neal, Johansen and himself. He finished the week with eight shots on net and a strong 59.1 Corsi For percentage.
Filip Forsberg, 7: The young winger did not have a great week nor did he have a bad week. He poked home a late goal in the Chicago defeat and found the empty net in the win over Minnesota. He had just one high-danger scoring chance this week to go along with 10 shots on net.
Mike Ribeiro, 7: Ribeiro is quietly having a strong season with five goals and 23 helpers, including 10 points in his last 13 games. The veteran had a goal and an assist against the Blackhawks for his lone points of the week, but he really seems to be getting more and more comfortable in his second-line center position.
Calle Jarnkrok, 5: The 24-year-old continues to be a player that is just there and not making anything happen. He has not registered a point since December 28 and his Corsi For percentage of 41.3 this week isn’t something to be excited about. Jarnkrok has shown flashes of brilliance this season and him opposite Forsberg on this line packs a potential punch, but that punch from Jarnkrok has not been seen quite yet.
Eric Nystrom, 8: With Colin Wilson and Gabriel Bourque listed on the injured reserve, Nystrom got the promotion to the third line and in his two games played this week he created something rarely seen, offense. He had a goal in each of his two games played, shooting 100 percent on the week. He will be dropped back down to the fourth line once the roster becomes healthy, but it was a nice week for him.
Mike Fisher, 6: Since the acquisition of Johansen, which knocked Fisher down to the third-line, the 35-year-old has struggled a bit. He recorded his lone point of 2016 with an assist against the Wild and had six shots on goal this week. Fisher had five individual scoring chances during the three game stretch.
Craig Smith, 5: The curious case of Craig Smith continues. He had two goals in the final three games to close out 2015, but he has zero points through his seven games played since the calendar turned to 2016. He was not noticeable in the loss to Winnipeg with zero shots on net. He finished the week with six shots on net and a Corsi For percentage of 58.5.
Miikka Salomaki, 5: Salomaki played a little more than seven minutes in each of the first two losses this week. In the win over the Wild he was given an extended role and played 14:05 but had nothing going. In an uneventful week for the Fin, he had zero points and one shot on goal.
Paul Gaustad, 6: Gaustad gets an above-average rating this week after winning an important faceoff in the dying seconds of the Winnipeg game that led to Neal’s game-tying goal. That was Gaustad’s lone point on the week in which he went 16-of-24 in the faceoff circle.
Cody Bass, 5: The physical 29-year-old was called up to Nashville from AHL Milwaukee to bring a different look to the fourth-line and you could say he’s done that, but only that. He had four hits in his two games played this week to go with one shot on goal. He skated just 5:41 against the Jets and 9:15 against the Wild.
Shea Weber, 8: It was a typical week for the team captain, which isn’t a bad thing, as he had two goals and one assist. He finished the week with 11 shots on goal while racking up nine hits as well. Weber has six points in seven games played this month.
Roman Josi, 7: It was a slow week for Josi with just one goal and zero helpers to his name. His impressive possession numbers continue with a Corsi For percentage of 50 during the three-game span. His lone individual high-danger chance came against the Jets.
Ryan Ellis, 6: Much like Josi, it was a quiet week for Ellis. He put only three shots on goal, which is a low total for the offensive blueliner, and recorded just one helper. He was also finished as a -2 in the 3-2 loss to Chicago. He remains steady on the back-end, but putting more pucks on net is a must.
Mattias Ekholm, 5: Not a single point for the big Swede this week with five shots on net. Ekholm also had five giveaways, which are five more than his defensive partner had.
Barret Jackman, 7: The veteran isn’t on the ice to record points, rather to be a stay-at-home defenseman and he played that role well this week. In a three-game span where the opposition scored eight goals, Jackman finished with a +1 rating. He also possessed the puck fairly well with a Corsi For percentage of 49.7.
Anthony Bitetto, 6: Bitetto was noticeable, not in the good way, in what were his third, fourth and fifth games of the season. He’s been given the fairest shot at filling in Jones’ shoes during five-on-five play, but the spark hasn’t been seen quite yet. He had zero shots on goal to go along with zero points this week.
Pekka Rinne, 4: It is the second week in a row Rinne has received a ranking of below average. In his two starts he went 0-1-1 with a combined save percentage of .831, allowing eight goals. In a non back-to-back situation, Nashville decided to sit Rinne and start Hutton in the week’s finale against Minnesota.
Carter Hutton, 10: Remember, these are weekly rankings and in his lone start this week Hutton stopped all 29 shots he faced in the shutout win over the Wild. He made impressive saves throughout the contest as well with eight high-danger stops on the night. Hutton is now 4-2-1 on the year.
Austin Watson, 4: Watson skated in just one game this week, the loss to Chicago, where he played just 6:03. He was a -1 on the night with zero points and zero shots on net.
Cody Hodgson, 4: Hodgson found himself in the same situation as Watson, but was placed on waivers in the middle of the week. He went unclaimed and is now with AHL Milwaukee.
All stats via War on Ice.