The best and worst from Nashville’s 3-2 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night.
Carter Hutton has appeared in 3 games for the Predators, earning a 2-0 average with an absurdly low 1.37 GAA and an absurdly high .959 save percentage. His save percentage is second highest in the league (behind Colorado’s Jean-Sebastian Giguere) among players who have started multiple games and his GAA is fifth-lowest among that same crowd. On Thursday morning, Hutton was unexpectedly handed the reins to the franchise for the next few weeks when Pekka Rinne was placed on injured reserve. While it remains to be seen if he has the stamina and staying power of Rinne, Hutton’s 2 wins in relief of Rinne are twice as many as Chris Mason had last year. Thus, one could argue that the Carter Hutton gamble has already paid out.
Patric Hornqvist scored his team-leading 4th goal of the season in the second period. He has now equaled last season’s goal-output (4 games) in less than half as many games (11 vs. 28).
Craig Smith continued his impressive early season performance, knocking home the game-winner in overtime. Smith now has 2 goals and 5 assists in 11 games after scoring just 12 points in all of last season. Earlier in the game, Smith seemingly took a shot to the head from Dustin Byfuglien, but was obviously unaffected by the hit.
Shea Weber displayed an oh-so-rare wristshot from inside the slot which looked to have a fairly similar fear factor to his slap shot. It should, at least, because Ondrej Pavelec never saw it coming when he unleashed it. 1-0 Predators. He also blocked SIX shots
Anthony Peluso scored his first career goal against Hutton on what initially appeared to be a brilliant save. Peluso wrapped around to try and score on Hutton and literally got the smallest possible amount of puck over the line that a player can get and still score…the referees initially waved it off, but upon review it was obviously a good goal – if barely.
Magnus Hellberg earned his first NHL call-up due to Rinne’s injury. He saw no ice time, but he likely will in the coming days. He and Hutton have a combined 4 NHL games between them…and all of those games have been played by Hutton.
In a scary moment early, Seth Jones was hit by a puck that deflected into his ear, headed to the locker room and the Nashville crowd held their breath. Jones missed a shift – if anything – and came back playing like the same Seth Jones that Nashville has come to expect. Jones generated the Weber goal by chasing down Winnipeg’s Evander Kane on the backcheck and sending the puck back up ice. If there were a third assist, Jones would have had it on that play. Jones did get his assist in the third period on Hornqvist’s goal.
David Legwand quietly had a very significant two-point night. He was the player who fed the puck to Weber in the slot to open scoring and he was quick to pounce on a bobbled puck by Dustin Byfuglien with 17 seconds left in overtime and pass it to Craig Smith for the game-winner. Legwand is now tied with Smith for the team lead in scoring, with 7 points.
The Predators penalty kill has now killed off 22 straight penalties. The last time a team scored on Nashville’s penalty kill was during the 5 minute major after the Mike Fisher boarding call against Toronto at Bridgestone Arena on October 10. That was 7 games ago.
Mike Fisher appeared in the lineup for the first time in 3 games after what his wife dubbed a “foot fracture thing”. He had the first assist on the Hornqvist goal in his return.
Matt Cullen and Paul Gaustad dominated the faceoff circle. Cullen was a nearly unbelievable 15-of-16 for 94% while Gaustad also had an impressive 11-of-14 for 79%. As a team, Nashville was 39-of-59 for 66%.
Viktor Stalberg was scratched for the second time as a Nashville Predator. So far this season, Stalberg has yet to generate a point and has just 6 shots on goal. For point of reference, Nick Spaling is both outscoring and outshooting Stalberg at this point in the season.
Pekka Rinne was placed on injured reserve on Thursday morning with what was described as a “spontaneous bacterial infection” in his hip. Rinne had his hip scoped on Thursday and will miss approximately 4 weeks, which means that Nashville will get to see very quickly if their darkhorse pick of Carter Hutton will work in net.
Adam Proteau of The Hockey News published a column on Thursday arguing that the Predators should trade Shea Weber. A few things wrong with that… For starters, the article’s main argument seems to be that Nashville has not seen increased scoring this season after struggling in all of last season. In case you haven’t checked your calendars lately, it’s October. It’s still just 3 weeks into the new season…which lasts until at least mid-April. In other words, it’s a little early to hit the panic button. Additionally, Nashville is 6-4-1 right now. Scoring is not exactly the hot topic it was last season when the Predators were not only not scoring, they were not winning. While Nashville is obviously not going to make any drastic moves due to an article in The Hockey News, offensive production should not be a concern as long as there is production in the win column. When and if Nashville starts losing at a regular rate, then the scoring production can be addressed. Regardless of what the scoring statistics are right now, the sample size is much too small for any General Manager worth his salt to press the panic button. If you want to look at a telling statistic, Nashville is averaging 3.00 goals per game in wins and just 0.80 goals per game in losses. As for trading Shea Weber…he was the team’s leading scorer last season. That means that Proteau’s argument is essentially that in order to shore up Nashville’s scoring, they need to trade away their best scorer. In addition, trade him away right after they’ve paid the most expensive portion of the contract. Sorry, Adam, but that’s gonna be a minus.
The post Patten’s Plus-Minus: Winnipeg Jets at Nashville Predators appeared first on The Predatorial.