Nashville Predators

Predators Weekly Player Grades: The Top-Six Wakes Up

To begin the month of February the Predators had a prime opportunity to gain breathing room in the tight Western Conference wild card race with a four-game home stand. Three of those four games came this week, but the results were not exactly what they were hoping for.

The week began with a visit from the St. Louis Blues, which turned out to be one of the most uneventful games of the 2015-16 NHL season. Both teams were gridlocked in a scoreless tie until St. Louis lit the lamp with under three minutes left to give them the 1-0 win.

The Philadelphia Flyers came next and the Predators could not keep the puck out of their own net in the 6-3 loss. The Flyers six goals came on just 19 shots, while it took 40 shots for the Predators to score those three tallies.

Finally, the tides turned in their final game of the week with the San Jose Sharks in town. Nashville came out flat for the first ten minutes, but then the offense exploded to push them to a 6-2 win.

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, January 31st to Sunday, February 7th.

 

First Line

Calle Jarnkrok, 8: Jarnkrok’s start on the first-line against the Sharks made him the sixth left-wing to play with Ryan Johansen on the first line in his 13 games with the Predators. The 24-year-old Swede seemed to fit right in.

He began the game against Philadelphia on the third line, but jumped to the first line during the game and lit the lamp and ended the night with five shots on goal. He scored his ninth goal of the season against the Sharks with five shots on net. Jarnkrok ended his week with a 5-on-5 Corsi For percentage of 49.3 percent and was accountable for five individual high danger scoring chances.

Ryan Johansen, 9: Johansen has been impressive since the moment he put on a Predators sweater and this week was no different. He was responsible for a goal and an assist against the Flyers and recorded two assists in the win over San Jose. Johansen carried a Corsi For percentage of 55.9 percent in all situations during the three game stretch plus seven individual scoring chances.

The 23-year-old now has 14 points (4G, 10A) in 13 games with Nashville.

James Neal, 7: Neal wasn’t as noticeable this week, but nevertheless he did register a goal and an assist. His chemistry with Johansen is unprecedented and he seemed to gel with Jarnkrok as well.

The winger possessed the puck nicely with a Corsi For percentage of 55.9 percent, recorded seven shots on net but had just two individual high danger scoring chances, a surprisingly low number for the sniper during a three-game stretch.

 

Second Line

Filip Forsberg, 8: Forsberg’s week got off to a slow start with a plus-minus rating of -3 and just five shots on net, but the young Swede had a breakout performance in the win over the Sharks. Forsberg lit the lamp and added two assists in the win for his first multi point game since December 26.

The 21-year-old carried a Corsi For percentage of 56.3 percent.

Mike Ribeiro, 8: Ribeiro has looked right at home in his second line center role and this week he was controlling play with an even strength Corsi For percentage of 66.0 percent. The veteran also had three assists to go along with five shots on net.

Viktor Arvidsson, 9: Arvidsson may have played less than 11:30 in every game this week, but the undersized winger was impressive. His lone two points came against the Sharks in which he scored two highlight-reel goals.

For the week, Arvidsson held a whopping 72.0 percent Corsi For percentage, had zero giveaways, had 10 shots on net and 10 individual scoring chances.

 

Third Line

Miikka Salomaki, 7: The young Finn is on the third line to bring a physical presence to the group and that is what he did this week with eight hits and one takeaway. Other than that however, Salomaki was not noticeable on the offensive side of the puck with just four shots on net, zero points and one individual high danger scoring chance. He brought it defensively, but a touch more of offensive ability could be seen.

Mike Fisher, 5: The 35-year-old struggled mightily this week. Not only did he go pointless, he had just four shots on goal to go along with three individual scoring chances. His face off numbers were not fantastic either as he went 20 for 44 in the dot.

Despite the struggles offensively, he did possess the puck well with a Corsi For percentage of 53.1 percent.

Craig Smith, 6: Smith did just about everything well this week, except find the score sheet. He drove play with a Corsi For percentage of 57.1 percent, had five individual high danger scoring chances and even forced two takeaways.

Smith has been skating at a higher gear as of late but wasn’t rewarded this week. He was on the unlucky side to say the least with a PDO of 96.0.

 

Fourth Line

Austin Watson, 4: It wasn’t the best three game stretch for the 6’3” forward. For one, he only skated 5:13 in the game against the Flyers and beyond that he was not accountable for much. Watson put just two shots on net and zero individual high danger chances.

He isn’t in the lineup to be a playmaker and light the lamp at an astounding rate, but he wasn’t even noticeable this week.

Paul Gaustad, 6: Gaustad is on the ice to win face-offs and that was about all he did this week, but he did so impressively going 18 for 29. He also registered five hits and blocked one shot.

Offensively, Gaustad had one shot on goal during his pointless week.

Cody Bass, 5: It is tough to gauge a player’s performance when he averages 7:32 of ice time per night. Regardless, Bass was neither good nor bad this week. He registerd a Corsi For percentage of 40.0 percent and recorded one individual high-danger scoring chance. The physical forward had one hit and one blocked shot in his three games played.

 

First Pairing

Shea Weber, 8: Weber, just like the rest of his teammates, wasn’t noticeable in the 1-0 loss to the Blues but against the Flyers and Sharks, the captain was very good with a goal and an assist in both games.

Weber had six shots on net and a Corsi For percentage of 50.9 percent. Defensively he was a wrecking ball registering five hits and blocked four shots to go along with a +1 plus-minus rating.

Roman Josi, 8: While it wasn’t Josi’s best week offensively with just two assists and three individual scoring chances, his play on the other side of the ice was strong. The 25-year-old landed four hits and blocked six shots ending the week like Weber with a +1 plus-minus rating.

However, his Corsi For percentage of 49.6 percent was relatively low for his standards.

 

Second Pairing

Mattias Ekholm, 6: Following a four point week, Ekholm was held scoreless this week and wasn’t noticeable in the offensive zone with just four shots on net and one individual high-danger scoring chance. He possessed the puck nicely with a Corsi For percentage of 54.4 percent and was a +2 in the three games.

Ryan Ellis, 5: It was a somewhat forgettable week for the 5’10” blue liner as he was held off of the score sheet and was a -1 in the plus-minus department. Ellis blocked three shots and created six individual scoring chances with an identical Corsi For percentage as Ekholm at 54.4 percent.

 

Third Pairing

Barret Jackman, 7: When a stay at home defenseman records a point, it’s considered a successful week. That was the case for Jackman. The veteran tallied an assist in the win over San Jose and for the week he carried a strong Corsi For percentage of 54.9 percent. He was also responsible for three hits, three blocked shots and one individual scoring chance.

Anthony Bitetto, 7: Bitetto played in two of the three games this week and had strong outings in each. While he played just 9:37 in the loss to Philadelphia he put two pucks on net and possessed the puck with a 62.5 percent Corsi For percentage. His name was called upon more in the win over the Sharks as he skated a season high 14:54.

He didn’t register a point, but looked better this week than he has in the past.

 

Goaltending

Pekka Rinne, 7: Rinne was fantastic in two of his three starts this week. Against the Blues he allowed just one goal on 23 shots for a save percentage of 0.957. In the win over San Jose he stopped 28 of 30 shots for a save percentage of 0.933 and was the only reason the Predators were not trailing after one period of play.

The game against the Flyers was another story as he allowed six goals on just 19 shots for a horrid save percentage of 0.684. While he certainly would like that game back, at least two of those goals were due to a lack of defensive effort from his teammates. His week’s save percentage of 0.875 doesn’t reflect his slightly above average play and his lack of defensive help in the loss to the Flyers.

 

Others

Petter Granberg, 4: Granberg’s lone game this week came against the Blues. He didn’t put a shot on net, had a Corsi For percentage of 30.0 percent and had three giveaways in 12:42 of ice time.

 

All stats via War On Ice.

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