The Nashville Predators are not quite at the quarter pole, but due to multiple days off in between games now is as good a time as any to take the Preds “temperature” on the season so far.
Looking at the standings as of today, we have the Preds sitting at 9-8-1 with 19 points. That puts them in a tie for 3rd with Columbus in the Central Division. Chicago is 2 points ahead and also has a game in hand on the Preds since the Blackhawks have only played 17 games. Detroit is the division leader, of course, with a 12-2-3 record and 27 points through 17 games.
Within the Western Conference the Predators sit just barely on the outside looking in, at the 9th position. They are 1 point back of Edmonton, 2 points back of Calgary and Chicago, but the Preds have played one less game than both Edmonton and Calgary.
Looking back at the schedule so far this year it is apparent the Preds struggled on the road early. Despite the California sweep, the Preds have 7 of their 9 losses while visiting teams. The only times the Preds probably were kicking themselves for losing points had to be the home game against Calgary, the road game at Calgary (better start could have equaled 2), and at Colorado. Those games were missed opportunities in my mind.
Moving on from the schedule and points let’s take a look at the individual players that make up this team.
In order of points this season.
J.P. Dumont - 18 games played, 4 goals, 16 assists (team lead), 20 pts (team lead), a +1 rating, 1 powerplay goal, and 1 game winning goal. Dumont has been an assist machine on the 08-09 campaign thus far. He currently plays on a line with Legwand and Erat, which may be a way of Trotz trying to increase J.P.’s goal total. That would be the only thing lacking in Dumont’s performance so far, not enough goals. J.P. said his goal was to get 30 goals this season but thus far he is behind the pace slightly. Dr. Felder says J.P. is fine, but may want a goal scoring daily vitamin to help him improve slightly.
Shea Weber - 18 games played, 8 goals (tied for team lead), 10 assists, 18 points, +8 (team lead), 2 powerplay goals, 1 shorthanded goal (tied for team lead), and 1 game winning goal. Shea Weber is having a monster season for a defenseman. His effort has earned him an All-Star ballot nomination and he was the 3rd Star in the NHL for the month of October. Dr. Felder say that Shea Web is in perfect health and hopes he keeps it going all season.
Jason Arnott - 15 games played, 8 goals (tied for team lead), 7 assists, 15 points, a +2 rating, 4 power play goals (team lead), and 1 game winning goal. Jason has missed games due to a hand injury, and most recently left the San Jose game early after crashing into the net. When he is on the ice he has been a critical role in what little success the power play has had. Playing through a hand injury is not easy and yet the captain is still producing at a point per game average. Dr. Felder says that Jason is doing well this season and hopes he can continue to play through injury.
Martin Erat - 15 games played, 7 goals, 7 assists, 14 points, a +1 rating, 2 power play goals, 1 game winning goal, and a team leading 24.1 shooting percentage. Marty has been the driving force behind his line thus far. He is a consistent performer and earned his pay upgrade this past year due to that. Dr. Felder says that Erat is healthy, but could use a “Shoot the Puck More” pill in his daily supplement.
Ryan Suter - 18 games played, 2 goals, 10 assists, 12 points, and a +5 rating. Suter has been paired with Shea Weber all year and has learned that passing to Shea is a smart move. The occasional turnover and badly timed penalty are still present every now and then, but Suter has improved over last year. Dr. Felder says that Suter is doing well, but may also need the “Shoot the Puck More” pill once teams clue in on Weber’s cannon.
David Legwand - 18 games played, 3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points, 0 on the +/-, and 1 shorthanded goal. Legwand snapped a lengthy goal less streak this past game vs San Jose. For a 2nd line center, those numbers are lacking, and considering his pay rate he is not yet performing up to par. Dr. Felder says Legwand has a fever, and needs some “More Hustle” and “More Points” pills to improve his health.
Patric Hornqvist - 15 games played, 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, and a -2 rating. The rookie has found himself on the healthy scratch list more often lately. He is still adjusting to the North American game and speed, but it has shown at times. You can’t question his drive though, as he busts his butt every shift and is willing to dish and take contact. Dr. Felder says that Hornqvist needs some “Anti-Squeezing the Stick Too Tight” vitamins and some “Game Speed Adjustment” pills to get back to full health.
Dan Hamhuis - 18 games played, 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, a -6 rating, 1 game winning goal. Hammer has been throwing the body around lately, which is a nice sight. This season Hamhuis had his defense partner switched from Greg de Vries to Greg Zanon. Part of the reason was his propensity to be on the ice when the opposition scores. Hamhuis is a quiet player, but has been out of position a few times and it is has cost him. Dr. Felder says Hamhuis is a little under the weather and needs an “Improved +/- Ratio” supplement in his diet.
Ryan Jones - 15 games played, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, 0 on the +/- ratio, and 2 power play goals. This Preds rookie has been able to produce when put on the 2nd line, but finds himself on the 3rd and 4th lines recently. Dr. Felder has discussed before why this won’t work for Jones style of play. Ryan has done well so far this season, he plays in the dirty areas, is willing to take punishment, does well at the garbage goals, draws penalties, and has had a good start to his rookie campaign. Dr. Felder says Jones should keep doing what he is doing, but take a “More TOI and Better Line” pill if possible.
Scott Nichol - 17 games played, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, and a -2 rating. Scooter is recently best known for taking on Jumbo Joe Thornton in a fight. This year Nichol has been huge in the faceoff dot again, a strong penalty killer, and a strong grinder. Dr. Felder says Nichol is healthy and needs to keep doing what he has been.
Radek Bonk - 16 games played, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, a -2 rating, and 1 powerplay goal. Bonk has improved in the faceoff department significantly from last season. He has played on multiple lines this year but is doing well thus far. More importantly his +/- has improved from a league worst last season. Dr. Felder says Bonk is doing well, but may consider a “More Points” pill for his diet.
Joel Ward - 16 games played, 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, a +4 rating, 1 power play goal, and 1 shorthanded goal. Ward has been THE surprise of the Preds this season. He missed some games due to injury, but Ward has been promoted to the top line. A versatile player that has impressed all. Dr. Felder say Ward is completely healthy and needs to continue what he has done.
Rich Peverley - 12 games played, 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, and a -1 rating. Peverley has found himself on the scratch list all too often. He is a versatile player who can fill in any forward position. Some nights he is scratched, others he is on the 2nd power play unit. Considering his limited amount of games he is doing well despite being given little chance to get a rhythm going. Dr. Felder says Peverley may need the “More TOI” pill to improve his stats.
Ville Koistinen - 11 games played, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, a -1 rating, 1 power play goal, and 1 game winning goal. VK was getting every other game action until recently. Now he has played quite frequently. He does have a 20% shot conversion rate so maybe getting his shot on net a little more could help the offensive stats. On defense, he is starting to pinch in on the rush almost every shift and has been caught out of position a few times. Dr. Felder says VK is a little under the weather and needs to take the “Don’t Be EXACTLY Like Zidlicky” pill.
Jerred Smithson - 18 games played, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, and a 0 on the +/-. Smithers has been focal to the penalty kill and team faceoff success. Earlier in the season he found quite the chemistry with Joel Ward. Dr. Felder says Smithson is healthy, but may consider using the “Take Less Penalties” vitamin.
Jordin Tootoo - 18 games played, 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points, a -7 rating, team leading 41 penalty minutes, and 1 game winning goal. Tootoo has been trying to find his game this year. On the one hand he is expected to garner more points, and on the other he still needs to play that aggressive, in your face, and punishing game he has always had. His physical play has picked up as of late, but the offense has just not been there. Dr. Felder says Tootoo needs to take his “More Offense” pills while maintaining his physical play diet.
Vernon Fiddler - 15 games played, 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 points, a -5 rating, and 1 shorthanded goal. A slow start to the year found Vern on the healthy scratch list, but now he is on the top line with Arnott and Ward. Fiddler has been working hard as usual, but just hasn’t found the offensive game as much as the coaching staff would like it appears. Dr. Felder says Fiddler needs to take his “More Offense” pills but to continue his strong PK and faceoff play.
Kevin Klein - 7 games played, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, and a +2 rating. Klein is healthy, but finds himself not in the game all too often. No one is quite sure why he is so often scratched. He has an argument for ice time though, considering his stats are better than the next D man in our list. Dr. Felder says Klein is healthy, but should take his “Find A Way To Get the Coaches To Play Me” pills.
Greg de Vries - 18 games played, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, and a team worst -11 rating. Devo has been sticking up for his teammates but found himself watching goals fly into the Preds net also. A crafty, veteran D-man that usually uses good stick work and positioning to make up for a lack of speed. This season has not gone quite the way de Vries had expected I’m sure. Dr. Felder says Devo is sick, and needs his “Better +/- rating” pill in a bad way.
Greg Zanon - 18 games played, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, and a +2 rating. Z has been playing his type of game all year. He is not an offensive defenseman, but rather, a strong shot blocker and penalty killer. Dr. Felder says Z is healthy but needs to take his “Well Timed Drop to the Ice” pill to continue to be healthy.
Nick Tarnasky - 8 games played, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, and a +1 rating. “Nasty” Tarnasky has not fit the billing the Lightning sold David Poile. He has been scratched frequently since he has not shown his offensive side. Yes, he’s been in fights, but you can’t say he has won one just yet. Dr. Felder says Tarnasky is quite sick and needs immediate help. He should take his “Win Fights”, “Better Offense”, and “Deserve TOI” pills.
Dan Ellis - 16 games played in, 933 minutes, 3.09 goals against average, 7 wins, 8 losses, 1 OT loss, .897 save percentage. Dan has actually played real well this season. Despite the stats that make it appear he is getting lit up, early in the season the Preds defense did a poor job of helping Ellis. Dr. Felder says Dan is healthy but should include a “Lowering GAA” pill in his diet.
Pekka Rinne - 4 games played in, 159 minutes, 3.77 goals against average, 2 wins, 0 losses, .861 save percentage. Pekka started the year on a bad note against St. Louis, but he has played much more improved since then. He has shown he can be a very capable backup and could push Ellis for starts at times this season. Dr. Felder says Pekka is healthy but should take his “Push the Starter” pills for good measure.
Well, what do you think of the Preds so far this season? If the road wins increase the Preds will remain in the thick of things for the Western Conference playoff race. I look forward to the discussion that arises from this column.
The Dr. is out now…
Till next time, take care.
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