Skip to main content

Predators Hoping to Lift Off in L.A.

Last week if you looked at this West Coast road trip, you'd probably say that the Nashville Predators would do well to get anything more than two or three points from combined stops in Anaheim, San Jose, and Los Angeles.  The Ducks and Sharks are Stanley Cup contenders, while the Kings are basically a train wreck.  By dropping those games in Anaheim and San Jose, however, the Preds have set up tonight's contest in L.A. as a pretty critical game; they need to put an end to this five-game losing streak, and while the Kings boast some impressive young talent in Anze Kopitar and Mike Cammalleri, there are more questions than answers in that lineup.  This is a team the Predators should beat, and hopefully the best cure for an offense that can't seem to bury its chances is an opponent without a solid #1 goalie.
Discovery lifts off
L.A. Kings GM Dean Lombardi widens his search for goaltending talent
This game is interesting in that if you look at how the two teams are performing right now, strengths are matched up against strengths, and weaknesses are matched up with weaknesses.  For example, the Kings are clicking on the power play so far, ranked 6th in the NHL at 22.2%, while the Predators' penalty kill is also a top performer (6th at 87.9%).  Conversely, the underperforming Nashville power play (16.1%, 21st in the league) faces a woeful L.A. penalty kill (78.3%, 23rd in the NHL).  The Kings' biggest positional is perhaps in goal, but right now the Predators seem to be putting every shot square into the goalie's chest or wide of the net.  One thing that Nashville will have to improve upon is keeping out of the penalty box.  Saturday night in San Jose, they left themselves shorthanded four times in the second period, which totally disrupted the momentum they had going in the first, and kept some of their top offensive players off the ice.  The Kings, meanwhile, know how to create those opportunities.  So far, the aforementioned Cammalleri and Kopitar lead the league in drawing penalties from their opponents, with 11 and 10 such calls respectively.
Earl Sleek over at Battle of California posted an informative piece yesterday that tells us that when it comes to 5-on-5 hockey, the L.A. Kings are getting outscored more than 2-to-1 so far.  It looks like Nashville has scored 12 goals 5-on-5 and given up 16, so it's not like the Predators are faring much better there.
According to John Glennon at the Tennessean, Barry Trotz will juggle the lines a little bit tonight, starting with a promotion for Martin Gelinas up to the top line alongside Jason Arnott & J.P. Dumont.  Gelinas has been quietly impressive so far, not exactly racking up loads of points but playing a solid game that leaves him one of the few Predators who aren't on the negative side of the +/- rating.  Personally, I'm a bit apprehensive about seeing what I think has been the most effective pairing of late (Bonk & Gelinas) broken up, but the experiment that spread the offensive talent across three lines hasn't panned out over the last two weeks.  Instead, we're like to see the Arnott line followed by Erat-Legwand-Radulov, and after that it'll be up to the other two lines to hold down the fort.
I don't blame Trotz for trying to spread out the offense and slip guys like Vern Fiddler or Jed Ortmeyer onto top lines (and no, that's not just because I have Fiddler on my fantasy hockey team, the Fab Forecheckers); in the early going, you have to give players a chance to take their games up a level, and see if there's a mix that generates more offense that you'd normally expect (like Dan Cleary last year for Detroit, who in the early months of the season led the Red Wings in goals).  Until Steve Sullivan comes back or another player is found in trade, it looks like Trotz will have to rely on his top two lines to try and grab a lead, which then the whole squad can focus on maintaining.  It's a formula he's relied upon in the past with less competitive teams, so it's not like he's improvising on the fly here.
Who to watch - L.A. Kings
Anze Kopitar, C - He leads the L.A. forwards with 21:35 of ice time per game, and boasts 4 goals and 8 assists in nine games.
Mike Cammalleri, C - A former University of Michigan star, he's got the hot hand with 8 goals (including 5 on the power play) already.
Who to watch - Nashville Predators
Martin Erat, W - Expected to be an offensive leader, he has only 10 shots in seven games, and is a team-low -4.  The Preds need him to focus on goal-scoring.
Marek Zidlicky, D - Tonight presents an opportunity to ignite that dormant power play, and Zidlicky's role is to run the show from the point.

Popular posts from this blog

How I'm Trying To Make Money Sports Blogging

To kick off this series of articles general sports-blogging articles here at OTF Classic, I think it's best to start with a comment that Brad left here last week, after I shared my goals for 2012, which include specific revenue targets:
I considered diving into the world of internet marketing myself, but I felt that my friends would hate me for bugging them about stuff. I mean, it's pretty low-risk high-reward, so it's tempting. I wouldn't mind reading about tips on how to maximize impact of blogging in general to make it a legitimate income source. Trying to make money at sports blogging can be a very touchy subject - for the vast majority of us, this is an activity we pursue to both exercise our creativity and share our love of the game, whether it's hockey, football, badminton, whatever, with fellow fans. Mixing that personal conversation with a commercial message can turn people off, especially if it becomes too intrusive for the reader.

It's not unreasonabl…

Canadian Baloney, starring James Mirtle

A tireless refrain from the Canadian media is that Nashville is an absolute failure as a hockey market, and failing to move the team north of the border is an exercise in folly by the NHL.

Our latest exhibit comes from James Mirtle, usually one of the more thoughtful hockey bloggers extant:
But Nashville, quite simply, has proven it cannot sustain an NHL hockey team. Even with the lowest ticket prices in the entire league (I know: I've looked into flying there for a game or two) and a ridiculously forgiving arena lease, the team has had attendance issues despite having one of the best records in the league.

It's not a matter of Canadians not wanting teams in the southern U.S.; I've argued time and again in favour of teams like Dallas and Tampa Bay that have supported their teams and really brought something to the table in terms of bringing news fans and new energy to the game. That's a good thing.

The Predators, however, are not that, not in the beginning and certainly no…

Get Your NHL Super Schedule 2008-9 Right Here!

Click here for the 2009-10 NHL Super Schedule, at my new site,!

The NHL announced the 2008-9 Regular Season schedule today, so of course, it's time right here to publish my very own NHL Super Schedule 2008-9 as well.

For those unfamiliar with what I did last year, the NHL Super Schedule is a spreadsheet that I put together and make publicly available via Google Documents*. It includes an entry for each game in each team's 82-game regular season schedule, with additional information such as how far that team has had to travel since its last game, how many days have passed since that previous game, and various statistics relative to the opponent that evening, such as 2007-8 Winning Percentage, Goals Per Game, Goals Against Per Game, etc. For example, you can total the distance that each team will travel during the upcoming season, or find who plays the most back-to-back games. Check out which team faces the toughest opposing offenses, or which power plays…