The Predators continued their regular season dominance over the Avs with a 4-1 victory Wednesday night. In some ways the game should have been closer than that and in many others it definitely wasn’t. Bottom line, they didn’t get it done and continued their freefall through the standings.
AJ Greer was re-assigned to the Eagles on Saturday, Marko Dano took his spot in the lineup. Other than that the lines and pairs remained the same as in Vancouver. Tyson Jost and Sven Andrighetto are skating full contact in practice and could be available for the upcoming road trip. JT Compher is not making progress unfortunately.
Injured: Andrighetto (LBI), Jost (Haut du Corps), Compher (Haut du Corps)
The Avs drew an early penalty as usual and didn’t capitalize on it. From there the Preds took complete control of the first period starting with a 12-2 run. The Avs pushed back but gave up a pair of goals before another 7-0 run by Nashville to end the period. After staying out of the way for the 1st, the refs decided to insert themselves into the narrative with some cheap calls in the 2nd. The Avs scored on a great play by Sam Girard to his partner Ian Cole early in the 2nd but after a long review the puck was found to be a few millimeters offside. Didn’t need that. They almost lost another soon after when Matt Calvert tipped a Girard shot in the net that was barely under the crossbar. Play was fairly even for the rest of the period until a backbreaking score for a hat trick by Colton Sissons with less than 3 seconds on the clock. The 3rd was score effect theatre. Colin Wilson got the game within a goal but once again the play was found to be several millimeters offside. A late power play produced no shot attempts and an early goalie pull gave the Preds an ENG.
Tale of the tape was +44/-51 at 5v5, score effects slash that down to just over 40% however. Shots on goal in all situations favored Nashville 34-25. Scoring chances, both high-danger and overall, were pretty even but a lot of that was Colorado pressing in the 3rd. For most of the game they were far behind.
Power play was 1-3 and Sam Girard is gradually breathing some life into the ineffective 1st unit. The PK went 2-3 but the goal they gave up came with Carl Soderberg playing sans baton.
Top 6 forwards were Mack, Landy, Mikko, then the usual 5 minute gap down to Wilson, Kerfoot and Dries. In all situations it went Top Line, Calvert, Wilson and Kerfoot. Gabe Bourque was low man 5v5 at just over 6 minutes and Marko Dano was low man overall at 7 minutes.
The defensive regime went EJ, Nemeth, Cole, Barrie, Girard, Z at 5v5 and EJ, Cole, Sam, Nemeth, Z and Barrie overall. I’m not sure the staff are comfortable with the new pairs yet.
– A bright spot was the new 2nd line of Kerfoot, Wilson and Dries. They were dangerous at times and scored a fake goal. They ended up a solid +11/-7 together at 5v5 and produced 5 out of the Avs 25 SOG. Dries played a couple of PK shifts and had a nice breakaway scoring chance too. Interesting to see how this line evolves with more time together.
– The defenseman blender over the past 2 games has been a mixed bag. I think everyone agrees that the Cole/Sam pair has good potential and that Z & Barrie are the best match for both guys. The problem here is that it leaves EJ out in the cold with Patrik Nemeth, who has been flat out terrible lately. Take last night for example, EJ and Nemo were together for almost 11 minutes 5v5 and were a +4/-13 (23%) on the shot board. Ouch. On the other hand, EJ and Girard spent 5:21 together and were +12/-3 (80%). Big difference. Rate-wise, EJ was 6 times more effective offensively with Sam and 4 times better defensively. Obviously a lot of that came in score effect time but the staff can’t ignore that Nemeth has been a massive anchor for EJ to drag around and going back to pairing him with Sam seems to produce desirable results. Nemeth is one of those security blanket players that the staff can’t seem to get enough of. I don’t know what metrics they are using to justify that but they might want to dig a little deeper into what’s happening there.
– Another security blanket player is Matt Calvert. Congrats for the first goal with the Avs and all that but even with his 3rd point of the year he’s on a season’s pace for 16 points and less than 6 at 5v5. Not bad for a 4th liner but he’s 5th among forwards in time on ice. He’s 12th in points per hour, 9th in shots per hour, 11th in shot attempts per hour and 13th in scoring chances per hour. This is totally oblivious overuse. Defensively he’s a little better, call it around a 3rd line level for shots against metrics, but he’s 13th in goals against per hour. Not good, again they need to dig a little deeper if their evaluation tools are indicating he should be on the ice this much.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (-) They were not
– Quality vs Quantity gets a (-) not much of either, again
– Power Play Watchability gets a (+) getting better in some ways
– The Dreaded Turtle gets a (-) the Preds had a nice one going
– Starting Goalie Battle% gets a (+) not a great game by Varly, especially early
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) The offside calls cancelling the goals is what it is. Dumb, but apparently that’s what fans want. Aside from that I thought this crew did a garbage job and one of the refs has a long history of favoring the Preds and hampering the Avs. This game was managed perfectly to produce a Nashville win.
More road games! Winnipeg on Friday and a Sunday night contest in Edmonton.
Thanks as always to the NHL and Natural Stat Trick for numbers and visuals