Nashville Predators

Predators Weekly Player Grades: Top-Six Shines, Pekka Rinne Does Not

(Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire)

The Nashville Predators had a daunting three-game stretch this week, but did manage to secure at least a point in two of the three games.

The week began with the league-leading Washington Capitals taking a visit to Nashville, where the Capitals jumped out to a 4-1 lead midway through the third period. Nashville battled back, but eventually fell to their former head coach’s team by a count of 5-3.

Next up was a Friday and Saturday back-to-back in Florida which began in Tampa Bay. The Predators held a 3-2 lead with less than a minute remaining, but Steven Stamkos struck on the power play to force the game into overtime. Tyler Johnson ended that game quickly for Tampa Bay, as the Predators were caught in a line change. The Lightning took the game 4-3.

Saturday was a completely different story. The Predators jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead and kept their foot on the pedal. They held the Panthers to 22 shots on net and Carter Hutton recorded his second shutout of the season en route to a 5-0 Nashville victory.

Player Grades

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, February 7th to Sunday, February 14th.

 

First Line

Calle Jarnkrok, 9: Finding a forward to play on the left wing of Ryan Johansen has been a search since he was traded to the Predators 16 games ago. Jarnkrok showed that he may be the perfect fit this week, scoring two goals against the Panthers, one coming shorthanded, plus an assist against Washington. His two goals came on just four shots on net to go along with three individual scoring chances.

Ryan Johansen, 8: Johansen continues to be a point-per-game player for the Predators, as he recorded two assists this week for a total of 16 points in 16 games in a Nashville sweater. He also put a total of 10 shots on net while managing to produce four individual high-danger scoring chances.

James Neal, 9: The stat line that jumps out from Neal this week are his 14 shots on net. Two of those shots found the back of the net and he also had an assist. Neal has thrived since the Johansen trade with eight goals in 16 games. His eight individual scoring chances for the week show the rate he has been clicking at as of late.

 

Second Line

Filip Forsberg, 9: Forsberg potted two goals in the loss to his former team the Washington Capitals and found the back of the net again in the overtime loss to the Lightning. He possessed the puck at a nice pace as well with a 54.3 percent Corsi For percentage.

The man who has shown he can do a bit of everything this season also had three takeaways, two blocked shots and landed five hits.

Mike Ribeiro, 8: Ribeiro had a typical Ribeiro week with three assists and a Corsi For percentage of 60.9 percent. He has flown a bit under the radar this season, but he has successfully secured his 12th consecutive 30+ assist season. He created four individual scoring chances with four shots on net.

The 35-year-old played in his 1,000th NHL game this week.

Craig Smith, 6: Smith has noticeably been skating at a very high pace in the month of February, but has continued to struggle. He notched an assist against the Capitals for his lone point of the week. What is telling is that he had just three shots on net plus another four that missed the net. The two-time 20+ goal-scorer needs to put more pucks on net.

 

Third Line

Colin Wilson, 5: Wilson made his return to the lineup after missing a month of action and for the most part it was a struggle for the 26-year-old. He had zero points, five shots on net and a Corsi For percentage of 46.9 percent.

Mike Fisher, 7: Fisher did light the lamp against the Lightning, but other than that he was quiet offensively with a total of three shots on net. He possessed the puck with ease though with a Corsi For of 55.1 percent. The two-way forward landed seven hits to go along with two blocked shots on the week.

Viktor Arvidsson, 6: Following his two-goal breakout game to end last week, the 22-year-old notched just one assist this week. The good news is that he has been noticeable enough to be labeled as an NHL-ready forward as that has been borderline in his previous stint with the big club. His Corsi For of 54.7 percent and six shots on net speak to that.

 

Fourth Line

Miikka Salomaki, 8: This past three-game stretch may stand as Salomaki’s best this season. The Finn scored his first goal since Dec. 12 while creating three individual scoring chances, two of the high-danger variety. He may have only put two pucks on net, but his physicality showed all week with six hits. His Corsi For percentage of 53.8 percent is something to be excited about as well.

Paul Gaustad, 2: The fourth-line face off specialist making $3 million this season had a bad week. Going without a point is not surprising, nor are his three shots on net. But his 12-of-25 in the face off dot is uncharacteristic. To go along with that the 6’5” physical forward had just two hits and zero blocked shots.

Austin Watson, 6: In his lone game this week against the Panthers, Watson recorded his first point since Nov. 10. The forward had one individual scoring chance to go along with a Corsi For of 58.8 percent in his 12:24 of ice time.

 

First Pairing

Roman Josi, 9: Josi was lights out this week with one goal and four assists. His tally came against the Capitals and he had multi-assists games in Tampa Bay and against the Panthers. He put five shots on net while carrying a Corsi For percentage of 48.5 percent. The Swiss defenseman also blocked five shots.

Shea Weber, 7: The captain’s lone point on the week was a goal against the Panthers. The biggest number he posted was an impressive 11 hits while also blocking six shots. His Corsi For of 48.1 is not his worst either and he ended the week as a plus-2 in the plus-minus category.

 

Second Pairing

Ryan Ellis, 6: Ellis has struggled offensively over the last 10 games but he did record an assist this week against the Capitals. He put six shots on net and also possessed the puck with ease with a Corsi For percentage of 61.8 percent. The 5’10” blueliner created three individual scoring chances to go along with four hits and three blocked shots in the three games.

Mattias Ekholm, 8: Ekholm’s game continued to standout, in a good way, as he notched three assists on the week. He now has nine points in his last 11 games played. His Corsi For percentage even trumped his partner’s, as it stood at 62.9 percent. He managed to only put three pucks on net, but all in all a very strong week from the Swedish defenseman.

 

Third Pairing

Barrett Jackman, 4: The Corsi monster of Nashville’s defensive group struggled mightily this week, posting a percentage of 39.6 percent compared to his season average of 53.5 percent. He did however secure his fifth point of the season and second of this month with a helper in the loss to the Lightning. He also had two hits.

Anthony Bitetto, 7: Bitetto showed that he may be the guy to permanently fill in as the No. 6 defenseman on this team. He recorded his first NHL point on an assist against Florida, racked up 10 hits, a blocked shot and had just one giveaway.

 

Goaltending

Pekka Rinne, 3: Rinne gave up eight goals on 50 shots in his two losses this week. While every goal does not fall on his shoulders, the numbers do not back up his cause. His save percentage of .854 is bad, his adjusted save percentage of .820 is worse, his medium-danger save percentage of .857 is below par and he managed to stop just half of the high-danger shots he faced.

Rinne’s season save percentage of .902 is the 17th-worst among all goalies that have played at least 10 minutes in the NHL this season.

Carter Hutton, 10: Hutton only had one start this week but it was a 19-save shutout and that warrants a perfect 10 for the Predators’ No. 2 puck stopper. The 30-year-old was phenomenal in net, making six medium-danger saves as well as four of the high-danger variety. He is now 6-2-1 on the year with a save percentage of .924.

 

Others

Cody Bass, 6: Bass played in the opening two games this week and put together two pretty strong performances. He skated fewer than six minutes against the Captials and fewer than nine minutes against the Lightning, but nonetheless he carried a Corsi For percentage of 52.6 percent, put a shot on net and blocked one shot.

 

All stats via War On Ice.

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