It was a game they had to win, so of course they lost. I don’t want to hear anything from the organ-I-zation about how there’s a lot of hockey left, and there’s still half a season to go. Fuck that noise. If they actually wanted to do anything about the playoffs then literally every game from here on out matters, and their record needs to be absurdly good to have a chance. Instead we get absurdly bad shit like this one, where a first period in which the Hawks completely shat the bed was enough to sink the entire night. And then to really give us the finger, Pekka fucking Rinne scores a goal. You read that right. Let’s get through it:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–So as mentioned, in the first the Hawks were disjointed, messy and seemingly confused about what they were supposed to do and where they were supposed to be. And I don’t mean that in the existential sense of, “oh they suck at hockey,” although a lot of tonight’s roster certainly does. I mean it quite literally, in that there were defensive breakdowns everywhere and guys just looking at each other not knowing what to do. What’s really bizarre is they were barely beaten in shots in that period (12-10), and they led in possession at 5-v-5 (55 CF%, lots of 5s right there). This may lead you to say that it was Corey Crawford‘s fault, and I can assure it wasn’t, although I would have liked to have seen his glove side a little tighter. On the second goal, Adam Boqvist just got out-muscled and that’s the one Crawford needed to stop, but it’s not exactly his fault that his diminutive defenseman got drop kicked by an oaf, and said oaf was then left completely alone just above the crease. John Quenneville also demonstrated why he’s completely useless on Matt Duchene‘s goal, where he basically just watched the puck go by him like a spun Phish fan watching a glowstick (trust me, I know). All the way around it was exactly the opposite of what the Hawks needed to do.

–To cap off that terrible period, the Hawks took yet another too many men penalty, which I could have sworn was their 15th of the year. Mark Lazarus on Twitter had the actual data and it’s in fact 7 total for the Hawks, which isn’t worst in the league as I snarkily opined, but it’s the 3rd such penalty in basically the last week. I can’t think of anything that sums up poor coaching and a tuned-out team better than that. I get it, math is hard, but even I can count to 5.

–There are plenty of issues with personnel on this team, which have only been exacerbated by injuries, meaning there isn’t a huge pool of talent to work with right now. However, that makes decent coaching and decision-making even more important, and again Colliton isn’t even close to getting a passing grade. For example, why is John Quenneville on the top line? One could ask why he’s playing at all, while Dylan Sikura sits in the press box (and I will ask that–why the fuck is Sikura in the press box? Did he run over Colliton’s dog or something? It’s ridiculous at this point). For god’s sake Quenneville was on the power play–what does that tell you about where this team is at?

Another example: if you’re missing key players and working with less, why put two of your best centers on the same line? Having David Kampf on a wing is just foolish, since he’s the best defensive center they have, and Kirby Dach can hold his own as the 2C no problem. And if you’re not going to put Toews and Kane on a line, even though all logic says they should play with Kubalik, then at least get Patrick Kane OFF THE FUCKING THIRD LINE where he’s centered by Ryan Carpenter who is OK but not actually good, and Alex Nylander who can’t pass, shoot or do anything that plays to Kane’s strengths (or anyone else’s, for that matter). For what it’s worth, Kubalik-Toews-Kane did finally get a look in the later stages of the game (and had an 83 CF%, by the way), but the fact it took nearly the whole game, and the fact that they still only got under 5 minutes of ice time together when it was woefully obvious his first concoctions weren’t working, shows how clueless Colliton really is.

–So what did work? Well, for one, Dominik Kubalik. His goal was off a beautiful wrister and he was showing off his speed, which we know is a rare thing around here. He finished the night with an 58 CF% at evens, yet remains Colliton’s most hated player aside from Dylan Sikura. Alex DeBrincat scored on the power play, so that was nice too.

–And to be honest, the Hawks played better in the third period. I would hesitate to say “well” because they fucked up about three odd-man rushes that should have resulted in at least one goal. However, they certainly made a game of it and piled up 14 shots in the third, but this is also what’s maddening about this team. Flip the first and third periods and the outcome may have been different. It’s definitely a give-a-shit meter thing, but also the general confusion and poor coaching mixed with the lack of enough good players. Quite a situation.

–And ‘Ole Shit Hip not only gets the win, he got a fucking goal. What a time to be alive. Yes it was an empty netter, but still…

The game was closer than the score, but in the end it doesn’t matter. They had to have two points here and couldn’t even keep it even. I can only hope that every one of these types of losses brings Jeremy Colliton‘s tenure closer to its end. Onward…

Line of the Night:Zack Smith needs help from Olli Maatta.” –What you hear from the broadcast when your team is composed of bad players.

Beer du jour: Moon Man by New Glarus Brewing


One of the things people marvel about the Nashville Predators is their stability. John Hynes, hired this week, is only their third coach in the 20 years of their history. They’ve only had one GM, and that’s David Poile. Something about southern loyalty or whatever. One might have to ask though…why?

Because when you total it up, the Preds record of success doesn’t really justify keeping things the same this long. There are two division titles, both in the past two years, and one Final appearance. The latter was their only journey even beyond the second round. It’s always spurious to judge a team merely on playoff success, because the sport itself and the playoff structure can be so random. But we’re talking about 20 years here.

On regular season parameters, the division titles could be a touch misleading. There have been regular 100+ point seasons, including three of the last five. If you’re gobbling up over 100 points, where you finish in the division is again, sort of random, basically however many overtime or shootout points you or the teams you’re competing with have gathered.

Still, this isn’t like the Lightning who kept losing to the eventual champion. The Preds lost to those same Hawks in ’15 that the Lightning did, and outplayed those Hawks for at least three of those six games and saw Pekka Rinne undo all that work. But last year they lost to the ultra-boring Stars and the year before that it was the Jets, and each of those then bit it in the next round.

Still, after 20 years, you’d think more than one Western Conference championship would be required to keep David Poile in the GM chair. And he may be out over it now.

Poile fired Peter Laviolette, because the Preds have been amongst the favorites for a few years  and are currently out of the playoff picture. The pressure is clearly being felt, and expectations are clearly not being met. This isn’t just a good time for home and visiting fans alike anymore. The feeling that the Preds might miss their window is starting to get palpable in Tennessee.

How much responsibility does Poile take for this season? Or last? Well, last year is a mixed record. The pickup of Mikael Granlund made all the sense in the world on paper. Is it Poile’s fault that Granlund completely flattened out upon arrival? You could make the argument either way. The acquisitions of Brian Boyle and Wayne Simmonds only made the Preds slower and dumber, and harkened back to the 1st round pick given away for Paul Gaustad. It’s something that Poile has had a weakness for during his entire tenure. They certainly didn’t provide enough dash to get through the blockade the Stars were putting up in the first round.

This year? Again, Granlund not adapting to a team and style that should have hit him between the eyes isn’t totally on Poile. He sacrificed PK Subban because they had depth on the blue line, which they always seem to have, so they could sign Matt Duchene. And yet even with Duchene, no forward is scoring at a top-tier, first-line forward rate. Forsberg leads with 30 points in 36 games. Duchene has 29 in 39, which is kind of what he’s always been. This has been a bugaboo of the Preds for a while, no true game-breaker up front other than maybe Forsberg, and you still have to do some back-bends to call him that.

But then, most GMs’ and coaches’ fortunes simply hinge on PDO, and mostly on their goalies. The Preds do everything mostly right. They’re top-ten in Corsi and expected goals percentages. They have the puck most of the time. What they can’t get is a save, and especially on the penalty kill. The Preds have a .798 SV% on the kill, which has sunk both Rinne’s and Juuse Saros’s overall SV% below .900. Is that on Poile? Because if you go by the chances their PK is giving up, the Preds actually have a good kill. But it doesn’t matter if the goalies let every chance in. Certainly no one was advocating for the Preds to make changes in the crease in the offseason, if Rinne is turning into dust now.

But it’s never that simple in these calculations. If the Preds miss out, you have to feel there will be a house-cleaning. One wonders what Poile thinks he’s going to get out of John Hynes, who only had a good season in New Jersey when Taylor Hall said so. It reeked of a desperate move without a plan. Was Hynes really in the wings all the time to replace Laviolette? If so, why? Lavvy certainly has a shelf-life, but is it his fault that Rinne nor Saros couldn’t stop a sloth on the penalty kill? Did Poile only pull the trigger when Hynes became available?

Maybe Hynes knows how to get Ryan Johansen away from the postgame spread and playing like a top line center again. Maybe he can juice Viktor Arvidsson. But what’s clear is that the Predators aren’t content to be everyone’s cute little getaway anymore, and perhaps for the first time since they actually played games, they might be on the lookout for a new GM.



Guys…I think Pekka Rinne has a terminal case of shit hip! After basically laughing publicly at the Hawks’ terrible performance a couple weeks ago, Rinne got himself laughed right out of the game tonight, giving up 4 goals on 14 shots. Ya hate to see it. And this shit went full-on DLR. Let’s get to the bullets:

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

–Yes, Rinne was bad and Saros wasn’t great either, but the Hawks do deserve credit for playing better this time around. At first it didn’t seem that way—they spent way too much of the first period in their own zone, but they capitalized on bad goaltending and also a beautiful play from Kirby Dach to Dominik Kubalik. So it was a bit of luck and skill combined. And the pass from Dach to Kubalik was exactly why I’ve been complaining about Dach being marooned on the fourth line. He makes plays, he’s already improving his ability to hold onto the puck, and playing him with other skilled linemates will help the team now (see: tonight’s assist) and Dach’s development overall. Playing him with fourth-line bum slayers like Zack Smith will not. (Nothing against Smith even, I’m just making a point.) Doesn’t seem that hard to figure out playing Dach on the wing with Kampf and Kubalik is better than Dach centering two oafs, but whatever.

–The other funny thing about tonight was that the Hawks got domed in possession, but stats be damned I suppose. They had just a 45, 37, and 29 CF% in each period, respectively, and they were outshot 41-24, but thanks to ‘Ole Shit Hip not being able to stop much of anything and Saros not being much better, the number that really counts was in our favor the whole time.

–And let’s just be honest, the air raid offense was in full effect tonight. Seabrook’s goal was a fluky one that Rinne should have had, but Kampf’s goal was off a fantastic end-to-end play, where the Hawks got control behind their own net, moved the puck up and out, and passed it perfectly from Maata to Shaw to Kampf. Kubalik’s aforementioned goal came off a great play. Same with Nylander’s first goal. And you know what? I’ll be magnanimous about Nylander’s second too because it was a damn good shot set up by a great pass off the boards by Saad. The Hawks didn’t always control the puck or the play but they were able to get rushes and bury their shots. Would be nice if they could maybe hold onto the puck and stop giving up over 40 shots a night, but you know what they say about gift horses.

Alex DeBrincat was excellent tonight even though he didn’t actually put the puck in the net. His ability to keep plays alive, and in particular getting the pass to Patrick Kane on the fifth goal, were outstanding. Piece of Shit Austin Watson wanted to obliterate him but couldn’t, and Garbage Dick didn’t miss once he got the pass.

–Lehner was fantastic again as well, let’s not forget that. Granted, facing 41 shots seems like an easy night with this team, but he still finished the night with a .951 SV% and absolutely kept the Hawks in it in the early going before the game was definitely in hand.

And with that, let’s not delay this DLR any longer…



Line of the Night: “That was a bad goal.” —Eddie Olczyk, stating the very obvious after Seabrook’s knuckleball on Rinne

Beer de jour: Mercury by On Tour Brewing



RECORDS: Hawks 7-7-4   9-6-3


TV: NBCSN Chicago


You probably didn’t expect, after that complete shellacking two weeks ago in the same venue, when these two met up again the Hawks would be only three points behind the Predators. And with a win tonight in regulation, the Preds would be feeling hot giardiniera breath on their necks. Such is reality, which is what happens when various parts of your team rotate going haywire for a couple weeks.

The Preds have lost five of six coming into this (a couple in extra time), while the Hawks have sucked up 10 of 13 points in the meantime. Which is how you get this standing. That doesn’t mean these teams are just three points apart in quality overall, and you saw that the last game these two played. The Hawks haven’t been rolled like that since the Suhonen or Yawney days, and perhaps was the start of the process that got the Hawks to change their ways…however minor or major that actually was.

So what’s up with the Preds? Why has it fallen out of gear for them? Well one, the goaltending has been terrible. Pekka Rinne has only had one good start since that October disaster (for the Hawks), and it came against the Red Wings which barely counts. In his other three starts his SV% is .797. Saros has been better in the meantime, though he couldn’t stop that nine-goals-of-fun the Avalanche hung up on them.

The offense hasn’t been all that consistent either. They managed one goal against the Sharks, and one goal against the Rangers in this streak. When they have gotten goals, Rinne has employed the Roger Dorn defense in net.

Is that what the Preds are overall? Probably not, though they’re not an unholy force either. Their Corsi-percentage is just at tick over even. Their expected-goals is just a tick above that. Which is a tad strange for the Predators. And digging a little deeper, it gets a touch confusing.

In terms of attempts, the Preds give up a lot of them. Bottom-10 in the league. They also generate a fair amount for themselves. But when it comes to chances, it’s the opposite. They keep teams to the outside for the most part, but they also don’t get to the prime areas enough themselves. There’s a lot of noise in the Predators’ game right now, in that there’s a lot of stuff happening but not a huge portion of it really means anything. Still, when Rinne is off to the Kerry Wood Memorial Zoo then those half-chances and winged-hopes from the outside are still ending up in twine.

It’s generally not a good sign when your two leading scorers are d-men. One you can get away with. The Preds have a clear line from their top six to their bottom six and their top pairing to their bottom pairings. When Josi and Ellis are on the ice, good things happen and the Preds are on the right side of the ice. Same goes for either Matt Duchene‘s or Treat Boy’s line. But when Nick Bonino or Kyle Turris is the center, again, the Predators back up.

That’s probably why the Preds have made no secret they’d like to move Turris’s ass along, in another brilliant David Poile move. He’s currently centering their fourth line for the rate of $6M a year. They could also probably use another puck-mover on the second or third pairing. Didn’t they have one once? I seem to remember they did. He was pretty good, right? Correct me if I’m wrong.

Another factor the Preds might want to keep an eye on is that they’re currently shooting over 10% at even-strength, which leads the league by nearly a full percentage point. That is likely to come down, and then where will they be?

Turning to the Hawks, who will get Connor Murphy back tonight. While no team should need Connor Murphy this much, the Hawks do and he’s simply been their best d-man last season and the brief time he was around this one. At the moment he seems slotted on the third pairing, as Colliton doesn’t want to mess up what he’s got going with Keith-Gus and de Haan-Seabrook. This won’t take more than a period to change, given the mobility the Hawks need to counter the Preds.

Robin Lehner will be in goal, and he’ll probably need to perform a few miracles like he did last time in Nashville just to keep the Hawks from getting embarrassed. Hopefully this time if he does that it’ll result in points.

This will be something of a test of the Hawks new, aggressive, Loyola-Marymount ’89 ways. Then again, so was Vegas. The Hawks simply couldn’t deal with the Preds speed at forward last time, and they were turning the puck over before they knew they had it. This meant the Preds defense could pinch and move up in the zone to their hearts’ content, as there was no threat the other way.

If the Hawks are still serious about getting behind the opponent’s defense, while risking their defense and center being outmanned down low in their zone, they might get the Preds’ defense to back up. At least it could provide a quick outlet for a defense that’s going to be under serious pressure from the off, even if it’s just laying it out into the neutral zone and causing races back. But going back is where you want the bottom four D of the Preds. It hasn’t worked out well for them lately. The risk of course is that furious Preds forecheck will have even more fun with even less manpower and options for any puck carrier below his net or deep in his zone for the Hawks.

You’d think there’d be a measure of pride for the Hawks here as well. They were made to look like a high school team their last visit. That will still be fresh in the memory banks. Pekka Rinne was basically laughing at them in the postgame. The Hawks still like to think they carry the most pedigree in any matchup. It’s fading, but they still cling to it. Perhaps now would be the time to show it.


Mikael Granlund‘s career might be measured in just how much it never quite was.

When Granlund came up with the Wild in 2013, it was assumed that Mikko Koivu was only keeping the #1 center role warm for him. Here we are nearly seven years later, and Koivu is somehow still there while Granlund is now in yellow. The best laid plains of mice and men…

It could be argued whether Granlund ever really got a chance to take over as the top center in St. Paul. He certainly got looks under different coaches, but never serious run. and Granlund’s numbers certainly weren’t bad with the Wild, far from it. He had two 65+-point seasons and was on his way to another one before being traded last year. He had put together two 20+-goal seasons and again, before the trade to Nashville was on another one. They aren’t #1 center numbers, but they’re good. Equal or better than what Koivu was doing. It says something though when the team chooses Eric Staal and his walker over you.

Granlund also found most of his success on the wing, and when tried as the #1 center things just didn’t quite mesh. The Wild had that one, Dubnyk-inspired season that saw them almost win the division in 2017…and then go quietly out of things in the first round of the playoffs. Maybe that was the beginning of the end for the Wild, as Granlund never really took a playoff series by the neck.

Then again, how good were those Wild teams anyway? And we know the braintrust was smelling foul, because they moved Granlund possibly at the height of his value for Kevin Goddamn Fiala, who’s been a healthy scratch at times. Maybe the Wild just didn’t know what they had?

Harder to make that case, because surprisingly it hasn’t been wonderful yet for Granlund as a Predator. It made sense in theory; a fast, skilled player moving to a team that wanted to get up and down the ice a whole lot more than Bruce Boudreau could with the outfit he was provided in Minnehaha. But Granlund only managed five points in 16 games with the Preds last year, and is on the same total so far this year in 18 games. And you can’t say he hasn’t been given chances, because he’s exclusively been on the top six, centered by either Matt Duchene or Treat Boy.

Granlund has run into some rotten luck in Music City, it has to be said. He shot below 4% after his trade last season, and is only at 7.9% this year, which would be the lowest mark of his career since he became an NHL regular. Granlund’s attempts are the highest of his career as well, as are his individual expected goals per game. Perhaps he’s squeezing, trying to be too perfect with the shots and chances he’s getting. There could be a binge here soon, given what the metrics say.

Which will make it a hard call for Nashville either at the deadline or in the summer. Granlund will hit unrestricted free agency after the season, and at 28 it’ll probably be his only chance, or last chance, to ink a big contract. He won’t fit into the Preds’ long-term plans if they can’t unload Kyle Turris and his “yeah but who gives a shit?” production.

How big of a market there will be outside for Granlund is debatable. There’s always a home for a player with his skillset, but he’s also the type of player teams sign just to sign someone, to try and prove to anyone listening they’re trying, and then watch that player not move the needle a whole lot. He feels like another Gustav Nyquist. A fine addition to an already built team, a contributor, but he’s not going to pivot anyone’s fortunes.

Perhaps that’s the conclusion the Wild got to with him. The Preds might not be far behind.


Ryan Johansen – Treat Boy here always gets labeled as one of the top centers in the game, and we still can’t figure out why. His numbers the past two seasons mirror that of Jonathan Toews, and everyone’s relatively sure he looks like the host of “Tales From The Crypt.” RyJo Sen played his ass off just long enough in 2017 to get a fat new deal from the Preds, and then he became a fat new deal. The dude has one 70+ point season. When the Preds get bounced early again, it’ll probably be because Ryan O’Reilly or Nathan MacKinnon hand him his considerable lunch.

Matt Duchene – Rich kid face with an Oakland booty!

Austin Watson – Any day now, David Poile is going to yell, “I’m so fucking glad we have Austin Watson” at some female reporter. Except it’s Nashville, so that’s probably like an every day thing there.



RECORDS: Hawks 3-5-2   Predators 7-3-1


TV: NBCSN Chicago


The cushy start to the season is over, and the Hawks will remember what it’s like to have a road trip. They’ll also remember before too long what it’s like to play some real opponents night after night. And those memories might not be too sweet. But that’s for later in the month. For the first time this year the Hawks will embark away from the UC for a while, with a four-gamer that starts in Nashville before the California songs starting this weekend. Could have asked for an easier start.

The Nashville Predators are in fine fettle, as has been the custom, as they’ve taken 15 of the 22 points on offer so far this year. They also come off having just gotten both points (the second in OT) off the Lightning in Tampa and having won three in a row. They did the first part without Matt Duchene, their shiny new toy, and he’ll return tonight.

Look under the hood a bit, and it’s not quite as rosy. The Preds are one team when Duchene is out there along with Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi (the newly rich Roman Josi), and another when just about anyone else is out there. Those three and those who join them carry the play at 55% of chances and attempts. Every other time the Preds are below water. They have the highest shooting-percentage in the league at nearly 12% at evens, which isn’t going to continue. They also have a top-ten SV%, which probably will given the recent track record of Pekka Rinne . Although Rinne most likely isn’t going to ring up a .931 all season. When he comes to Earth a bit, the Preds current PDO of 104 is definitely going to deflate.

Maybe Treat Boy Johansen is in a sulk because Duchene has replaced him as the #1 center, or he’s in a sulk because the Halloween candy hasn’t been discounted yet and his usual wheelbarrow of it is feeling the effects, but he’s been getting caved in and he starts most of his shifts in the offensive zone. Kyle Turris has showed a pulse after going cold and grey last year which has mitigated Treat Boy’s struggles a touch.

Still, this team might need to figure out what they’ll do beyond the top pairing, as new kid Dante Fabbro hasn’t been able to do the things PK Subban did yet, except for not being popular and black which were two things the Predators were definitely after by moving PK along to make room for him.

The Preds also might have some issues when they need the power play to chip in, as it’s been worse than the Hawks’ if that’s even possible. Maybe they could use a right-handed bomb from the point and circle? No? Ok. So yeah, there’s some air in this cake, let’s say.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be a world of trouble for the Hawks, as they have more speed basically everywhere and will use it aggressively. The Hawks were able to hang around the Knights earlier, but they had caught them on a back-to-back and were at home and maybe had their best effort this season or even last against them. They also had Connor Murphy. Even with Seabrook scratched again (and not a happy camper) Preds will be fighting each other to get over the boards when any of Maatta, Gilbert, Koekkoek, and Gustafsson are out there. Hey, that’s most of the Hawks’ defense!

As for the rest of the story for the Westside Hockey Club, Robin Lehner will get another start as he is more worthy of the harder tests right now. Crow will get at least one start in California, and starting with that swing the Hawks will basically be playing every other day for all of November so there will be more than enough starts for everyone.

For all the buzz coming off a 5-1 win over the woebegone cattle ranchers that ended up as LA Kings, the Hawks gave up too much possession and shots in that one. That kind of effort here would see them give up nearly a touchdown or 50 shots or both. This can be a game too fast for the Hawks if the Preds want it, so the Hawks defense is just going to have to get rid of it ASAP, get it off the glass and out to the neutral zone and hope the forwards can win those races. If the Hawks can get the pucks to their forwards with any frequency, they can have at the bottom two pairs of this Preds outfit. Then they just have to beat Rinne, which takes more than a smile these days.

There are going to be some ugly shifts either way tonight, and hopefully Lehner is up to the task. But if the Hawks are going to be what they say they are, they have to get points off teams ahead of them. So far this year their wins are against terrible Oilers and Kings teams. That’s not going to get you anywhere in the long run except back in the lottery with those Kings and Oilers teams. Fuckin’ figure it out.


Ryan Johansen – Treat Boy here always gets labeled as one of the top centers in the game, and we still can’t figure out why. His numbers the past two seasons mirror that of Jonathan Toews, and everyone’s relatively sure he looks like the host of “Tales From The Crypt.” RyJo Sen played his ass off just long enough in 2017 to get a fat new deal from the Preds, and then he became a fat new deal. The dude has one 70+ point season. When the Preds get bounced early again, it’ll probably be because Ryan O’Reilly or Nathan MacKinnon hand him his considerable lunch.

Matt Duchene – Rich kid face with an Oakland booty!

Austin Watson – Any day now, David Poile is going to yell, “I’m so fucking glad we have Austin Watson” at some female reporter. Except it’s Nashville, so that’s probably like an every day thing there.


If you feel like the Predators acquire a tweener center every season — one who’s not quite a #1 but can be more than a #2 pivot — you’re not alone. Three years ago it was Ryan Johansen. Two years ago it was Kyle Turris. Now it’s Matt Duchene, whom they got because they weren’t sure what they had in more in the second one of those. Or maybe they realized Johansen isn’t what they claimed either. Maybe it’s both. Or maybe it’s the Preds just have to have all the lightning quick forwards with faces you want to turn into ground chuck. It’s a rich elixir.

The Preds were always rumored to be after Duchene, and he them, for years. So that signing might have happened no matter what kind of year Turris had last season. It gained more urgency when Turris played most of the year as if he was hit by a bus. When he wasn’t injured, he was terrible.

Turris only put together 23 points in the 55 games he claimed he was upright for, and missed the rest. The two points in the Predators’ playoff loss didn’t really do much to put any kind of gleam to it, either. Digging deeper, the look only gets worse.

Hockey doesn’t have a “chances created” category really yet, like soccer does. So it’s hard to suss out how far Turris’s passing game went into the toilet. We can fairly assess how much his scoring became El Disparu. His goals/60 was a career-low 0.17. His individual expected-goals per 60 was also a career low 0.37. Scoring chances, shots, attempts, whatever you want to look at were all the worst marks of his career.

On the flip side, the team’s overall numbers with him on the ice weren’t staggeringly bad. So Turris was either still doing some of his old work, or his teammates were carrying him around like a pool noodle.

No question Turris struggled with injuries. He had two separate stints on the IL to total those 27 missed games, both to his legs. Perhaps he just couldn’t get around the ice as well as he would normally.

Things have turned around of Turris this year, though. His goals/60 so far in 11 games is the highest of his career, though that has a little to do with the highest shooting-percentage at evens and overall of his career as well. But his individual expected goals is back to where it was in his halcyon days in Ottawa (if such a thing can exist in Ottawa), and his individual attempts are the highest he’s managed as well. Turris has never been a great sniper, as his career 10.9 S% would show you. So the volume of attempts and chances has to go up for him to score.

Health is certainly part of it, as thanks to the Preds’ first-round hairball against Dallas he had plenty of time to heal whatever fell off of him last year. It could be linemates as well. Last year, Turris spent most of his time with Craig Smith and Kevin Fiala. Smith is a fine player but something of a battering ram, and Fiala sucks and you know he sucks because he ended up in Minnesota. This season, Turris is playing between Mikael Granlund and Rocco Grimaldi. Grandlund has by far more verve and dash to his game, which means Turris doesn’t have to do all of the creating. Grimaldi’s speed, when not carrying his cross around to wave in everyone’s face, opens up more space than Smith and Fiala could have managed.

Maybe it’s also getting to slot behind Johansen and Duchene, when Duchene plays center at least. All of it must be a relief to the Preds, who watched Turris eat it in the first year of his $6M-a-year extension. Turris was, and might still be in the near future, looking at being a cap casualty. The Preds have $22M in space next year but they also have Roman Josi to sign, and he’s going to be looking for quite the raise from his current $4.5M hit that gave the Preds one of the biggest bargains in the league for years. They’ll have some holes at forward as well to fix with the rest of it.

At worst, if Turris plays himself into a useful trade piece, that’s probably enough for the Preds, who can roll with Johansen and Duchene 1-2 from here. Which makes it seem like this has to be the year for Nashville, or it’s never going to happen.


Everyone’s favorite darling, basically because national media types love to get drunk there for free and it’s not cold. Generally that has shielded everyone’s eyes from this being a pretty repugnant organization run by a ghoul in David Poile, who just engaged in the long-running hockey and Southern tradition of when things go wrong blame the black guy. It’s also put the wool over most experts’ eyes that the Preds have taken two straight division championships and done just north of dick with them, or that Ryan Johansen blows, or Eli Tolvanen didn’t redefine the sport upon arrival, or Roman Josi is starting to age, or half a dozen other things. Is it finally going to, thankfully, crash down around their ears this year?


47-29-6  100 points  (1st in Central, out in 1st round)

2.88 GF/G (18th)  2.59 GA/G (4th)  +24 GD

52.1 CF% (7th)  51.1 xGF% (13th)

12.9 PP% (31st)  82.1 PK% (6th)

Goalies: Same crew. Pekka Rinne will take the starter’s role as he has done in Music City since before Marvel Studios existed. He was more than acceptable last year with a .918. But that was down from the previous season, and he is 37 now and one wonders if that’s a slide that’s just going to continue. No one outruns time forever. Encouragingly for the Preds, Rinne did get stronger as the season went along last year, with a .913 in February and a .927 in March after a very shaky winter period. Didn’t really save him in the playoffs though, where he put up his second consecutive .904 in seven games against the Stars. And that’s usually the story for Rinne when the games really matter, as other than that one run to the Final he’s been nothing more than ordinary in the spring. And he’s running out of chances.

There are probably some in the Preds braintrust that hoped Juuse Saros would take the job from Rinne last year. He wasn’t bad, but he didn’t outperform Rinne and if the Preds are going to move on from a club legend while he’s still playing the difference has to be clear. Saros is only 24 and has time on his side, and if he sticks around his career .920 one might think that could be enough to usurp the incumbent, should his age-induced slide continue. Either way, the Predators are solid here.

Defense: Well it must be pretty damn good if they thought they didn’t need PK Subban anymore, huh? Must be nice when you can jettison the d-man who had the best metrics on the team.

It’ll put more pressure on Roman Josi, whose influence hasn’t been as great the past two or three seasons but still puts up points. Matthias Ekholm should be his partner, as Ryan Ellis was completely exposed taking on top pairing assignments in the playoffs. He’s a great bum-slayer but don’t put him up against real players, or you’ll pay the penalty.

There’s also a lot of faith in Dante Fabbro, who was tossed into the deep end of the playoffs after being a point-per-game at BU the past two seasons. He could end up driving things on the second pairing, either alongside Ellis or forcing him down to the third pairing where he started in the first place. Then again, that’s probably not what you want out of a d-man you’re paying $6.2M until the Earth’s heat death. More brilliant work from Poile.

They’ll round it out with Matt Irwin, Yannick Weber, and Dan Hamhuis‘s slowly-turning-to-dust bones, and they’ve definitely got this. Again, solid, but if Josi isn’t around Norris-level discussion, it’s short a top-pairing guy.

Forwards: The headlines are Matt Duchene finally came “home,” if home is the place where you’ve made it clear you want to play for about five years because you’re a true Canadian shit-kicker. Duchene will certainly juice the second line, whether from the wing or in the middle.

The Preds as always will do it through a strength-in-numbers method. Their only proven top line talent is Filip Forsberg and he’s made of graham crackers. Viktor Arvidsson is probably a genuine top-liner as well or a tick below. Ryan Johansen is completely overmatched as a #1, at least when he’s not playing for a contract to blow on a lifetime supply of ding-dongs, but they’ll keep selling it. Mikael Granlund will get a full season in yellow before hitting free agency, which probably means a big season for him. Granlund’s and Duchene’s presence will shove Kyle Turris down the lineup where he will hope no one notices he’s not worth $6M a year either. Same goes for Colton Sissons, and Craig Smith, and Calle Jarnkrok, Marriage counselor Austin Watson is still here to fill out Nashville’s absolute bastard quota. It might not have the highest of ceilings but this crew probably has the highest floor.

Prediction: My comrade in arms Fifth Feather thinks this squad is headed for a collapse. I wish I could get there, though the chance that Peter Laviolette‘s style finally is too much for the players is non-zero. The chance for Pekka Rinne to look his age is also non-zero. But the chance of both Rinne and Saros being bad is pretty close to zero. The defense certainly lost most of its fun to New Jersey, but it’s still more than enough as long as they keep Ellis away from anything flammable. They’ll be more than that if Fabbro is the real deal. The forwards carry more than enough speed and dash to light up most teams.

There isn’t a guarantee in the West to expose Johansen or outgun them, but they can also lose to anyone as they did last year. They very easily could win the division again. They could very easily eat it early with the wrong matchup. If that happens again, there could be changes.

But they’ll still be assholes.

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