Hayley is a contributor to OnTheForecheck.com. You can follow her on Twitter @ItsHalesYeah.
6-1 since the Kyle Turris acquisition. Clearly it’s all systems go for the Predators. What’s been the biggest difference he has provided?
The Preds offense has lacked center depth for so long, finally acquiring a 2C out of a guy Ottawa was running as a 1C is huge for this team. He was a renewed confidence boost they needed badly before the trade. Any time a new guy comes in and shakes things up I think it helps the guys who have struggled, work out whatever issues they’ve been having, and get back to playing their game. Turris has definitely taken some pressure off of Ryan Johansen, who was slow to start this year. Knowing that he has some depth behind him now should keep this team rolling deep into the post season again.
If there’s any concern, Juuse Saros has struggled in limited appearances. Is there a fear that Pekka Rinne might have to play too many games if Saros can’t turn it around?
Saros is young and talented, but spending too much time on the bench isn’t good for anyone. He could benefit from spending a few short trips to the AHL to get some playing time in. As for Rinne, he’s been a workhorse for this team for the past few seasons. It’s a role he’s comfortable with and thrives on. My faith in Rinne has not faltered, despite all the backlash he’s gotten the past few seasons. His play during last year’s playoff run and this season has shown he has one goal and that’s to win the cup before he retires. For the first time in a few seasons, Rinne is the least of Nashville’s concerns.
Truly scary that Ryan Ellis has yet to suit up this season. When he returns do you see Peter Laviolette keeping the top two pairs as is and having Ellis on the third?
Being without Ellis has hindered the defense significantly this season. While Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, and Mattias Ekholm can hold their own, it’s left an odd rotation to the top pairs. Matt Irwin is a solid anchor for the third line but isn’t really a top pairing kind of defensemen. Guys like Yannick Weber and Alexei Emelin have not been great this season either, keeping either one of them on the top lines probably wouldn’t work out for long. As long as Ellis is healthy he easily slides back into the top two pairings as he should. I can’t see any reason why Laviolette would do anything differently.
A strange aspect to the Preds so far is that while they’ve been consistently one of the better analytic/sabermetric teams over the years, this year they’re not creating as many “good” chances as years past. Obviously this hasn’t been a problem in actually scoring goals, especially of late, but is this something you see?
The start of this season was not the best showing for the Preds. While they’re not creating as many good chances, they’ve also missed a lot of chances as well. I think the addition of Turris and guys like Scott Hartnell and Ryan Ellis getting healthy will help the Preds create better chances and finish them.
Now that we’re more than a quarter into this season, does it feel even more like Cup Or Bust for the Predators than it did before the season?
This is such a young team, I think they’ll be Cup contenders for a while. That being said the city of Nashville is ready for a Stanley Cup winning team, and if any Preds team can get it done, it’s this one.