One of the projected favorites in the Central Division and a squad thought by some capable of competing for a Stanley Cup, the Nashville Predators are off to a rough start to the 2016-17 campaign. After eight games, the Predators have just five points and are already eight points out of first place in the division. As Adam Vingan of The Tennessean writes, the team has been plagued by inconsistency throughout their lineup.
Vingan points out the Predators even-strength play as a primary factor in the team’s slow start. They’ve tallied just eight goals on the season in even-strength situations and currently rank 19th in the NHL in Corsi For % at five-on-five. Over the last three seasons, Nashville ranks in the top-half of the league in Corsi For %, about three percentage points better than they are this season.
First year team captain Mike Fisher knows the Predators are better than they have shown so far.
“We feel like we’re just not playing up to our potential right now. Individually, as a group, you know you’re a better team. When you’re not getting the results, it’s frustrating.”
Usually a strength, Nashville’s goaltending has also been below par this season. Pekka Rinne has stopped just 90.6% of the shots he has faced overall and is allowing better than three goals a game. Worse yet, he’s not bailing out his defense when they give up a high-quality scoring chance. According to Corsica Hockey, of the 18 goalies who have played at least 240 five-on-five minutes, Rinne is dead last stopping just 71% of high-danger shots against.
Nashville is an experienced team with too much talent to linger near the bottom of the standings for much longer. It’s likely just a matter of time before they iron out their inconsistencies and return to their winning ways.
Elsewhere in the Central Division:
- Checking line forward Andrew Desjardins, who has yet to make his 2016-17 season debut due to a left foot injury suffered in training camp, practiced for the first time since hurting the foot on October 8th, according to Chris Hine writing for the Chicago Tribune. Desjardins is also one of the team’s top penalty-killers, averaging the second-highest shorthanded ice time per game among Blackhawks forwards last season. The Hawks, who have been historically bad killing penalties this year, have allowed 15 power play goals in 30 opportunities against and would surely welcome Desjardins back with open arms. The 30-year-old winger previously did not wear shot-blocking guards on his skates but after this injury Desjardins will be in the future.
- Brett Bulmer, who was drafted in the second-round of the 2010 draft by Minnesota, has signed with Tampereen Ilves of the Finnish League, the team announced on its Twitter account – tweet in Finnish. Bulmer has appeared in 17 NHL contests over parts of three different seasons recording just three points. In 203 AHL games in the Minnesota system, Bulmer has tallied 23 goals and 55 points along with 245 minutes in penalties.