Hockey

Ryan Johansen – Nothing pisses us off more than comparisons of Kirby Dach to this bloated jackass. The Preds had to sign Matt Duchene because Johansen kept eating his contract and not being a #1 center, and now they’re shocked to find out that Duchene isn’t a #1 center either. Clearly has played for a contract twice in his life, gotten those deals, and then just let the world pass him by. It’s ok, he’s only signed for five more years, so in 2025 the Preds can expect a comeback season…assuming RyJo can even get out of his dressing room chair by then.

Dan Hamhuis – You know he still got this.

Jarred Tinordi – Your father was an asshole and never left the Hawks alone. If Tinordi had another last name he would have been playing in a beer league three years ago. But no one believe in legacy quite like the NHL, and you can expect Tinordi to get another chance after this. And it’ll probably be in St. Paul, where old North Stars never die. Also your first name is spelled wrong, fuckstick.

Hockey

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.

Hockey

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.

Hockey

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.

Hockey

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?

2018-2019

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.

Previous Team Previews

Carolina

Columbus

New Jersey

New York Islanders

New York Rangers

Philadelphia 

Pittsburgh

Washington

Boston

Buffalo

Detroit

Florida

Montreal

Ottawa

Tampa Bay

Toronto

Arizona

Calgary

Edmonton

Los Angeles

San Jose 

Vancouver

Vegas

Colorado

Dallas

Minnesota

 

Everything Else

So what banner are you going to raise now, assholes?

The Nashville Predators, everyone’s darling and if you don’t believe just ask them, have once again bitten the dust before doing anything anyone will remember. And this is truly their nature. Aside from that run in ’17, this is what the Predators do. They’re that veritable “dangerous team no one wants to play” until they run into a team that doesn’t seem to mind terribly in the first two rounds and off they go before any kind of silverware is in the building. And hey, maybe that’s enough for fans who maybe don’t notice while they’re telling everyone who won’t listen that they’re the wildest fans in the league. I always wonder how they cram the 11,000 back into that car they smash outside so they can go back to the shed. Must be quite the sight.

As no hockey writer wants to endanger their free moonshine and grilled pigeon, you won’t hear a bad word about another flameout far too early for a team with this cap situation. But let’s go back through entrenched throbbing brain David Poile’s moves to make this team a Cup-winner, shall we?

Kyle Turris is signed for another five years, and for their investment the Preds have gotten 20 goals and 65 points in 120 regular season games and a solitary playoff goal in two years, and a bewildered gape while he was second best to Radek Goddamn Faksa this spring. Look, when the Ottawa Senators are offering up their consistently fourth-highest scorer, you have to jump on it, ok?

Poile’s other center, Treat Boy Ryan Dough-hansen has managed 44 goals in three years and 179 points. This year, Nashville’s “first ever true #1 center” ranked 35th among centers in scoring. Hey, that averages out to mean only four teams have two better centers! Over the past three seasons, he ranks 31st among centers, behind luminaries like Ryan Getzlaf (hasn’t cared in five years), Brayden Schenn (now a wing), Sean Couturier (checking center), Jonathan Toews (was told he is ready to be a white walker), and Eric Staal (a million years old and playing in a wasteland). That David Poile sure can spot a pivot!

Oh but it doesn’t stop there. Various pundits couldn’t help but have to change their shorts when Poile added tried and tested PLAYOFF GRIT with Wayne Simmonds (never seen a conference final) and Brian Boyle (an ent with no wisdom). Simmonds was on the fourth line within five games and Boyle had a stupid look on his face when something wasn’t falling off of him. Sure can win a draw in the 2nd period, though.

That Mikael Granlund sure looked like he’d fit in. He scored one goal.

All of this would be more than enough rope to hang Poile with, and then you throw in his penchant for stocking the Preds with a true shithead or three every season and you wonder how this guy hasn’t been chucked into the river. Don’t worry, Poile will get more spins at the wheel because due to Southern hospitality/incompetence he can’t actually ever be fired. Maybe one day Preds fans will figure out they’ve only had one and a half true top line forwards for like four years. Maybe after the next standing ovation they’re told to give during a TV timeout.

It’s ok, Preds fans will tell you, Matt Duchene and his glorious record of success are already on their way to Music City in the summer. Funny how that will work when the Preds have all of eight dollars under the cap to spend. That’ll happen when you pay Ryan Ellis for looking great against bums and then are shocked when he can’t handle a top-pairing role. Whoopsie daisy!

The Preds are that team and fanbse that has carried itself with a completely unearned arrogance and are going to look awfully stupid when they continue to be first and second-round kindling. One Final appearance and suddenly these guys think they’ve redefined the sport. The Devils have the same amount of appearances. So do the Sharks. And the Hurricanes. And the Ducks, and the latter two actually bothered to win it. The Flyers have the same. The Canucks. The Rangers. And yet Nashville will have you believe they’re a traditional power. Maybe the next Cody McLeod acquisition will push them over. God knows they’ll try.

You can be sure in the next day or two there will be “whispers” that PK Subban is the problem, that his dating of Lindsey Vonn and his suits mean he’s not committed to the cause, that he’s a dressing room issue, because hockey and the South form a perfect nexus of the tried and trusted tradition of “When in doubt, blame the black guy.” It certainly couldn’t be that Subban was the only one who figured out how to bust the Dallas trap while good clean boy Roman Josi was trying to remove Jamie Benn’s skate from his colon. Perish the thought.

Once again, while the Preds try to claim their strength in numbers is higher than that of any star power, they’ve lost because they don’t have the star power. This year it was Seguin and Benn. Last year it was the entire Winnipeg top nine. The year before that it was Crosby and Malkin. We could keep going. Pavelski and Thornton and Couture put them to the sword in ’16. Keith and Kane the year before. Maybe you’d think they’d learn? But that would go against what they do in the Confederacy, wouldn’t it?

Oh, and the little matter of teams figuring out that once Ol’ Shit Hip has to move side-to-side, he starts to sound like a car stripped of its converter.

This is what you are, Predators. Your hockey’s Trail Blazers, a funny little quirk of the league’s geography but never meant to be around when things matter. Except you’re not nearly as cool. But look at this way, Rocco Grimaldi has even more time to figure out which Planned Parenthood he’ll spend his summer outside yelling or for Poile to find another sex criminal to sign to his second line. Some traditions never die.

Everything Else

 vs. 

RECORDS: Predators 26-15-3   Hawks 16-22-7

PUCK DROP: 7pm

TV: NBCSN

THIRD MAN HANGERS-ON: On The Forecheck

Not exactly the easiest week for the Hawks. Sunday saw them face the hottest team in the league, a test which they passed. Then they got the Pacific leaders, who let them hang around for two periods before it was swirly time in the third. Tonight it’s one half of the Central’s twin towers, and then Saturday night it’s the defending Western champs who are tied with the team that just held the Hawks at arm’s length on Monday. Boy, the Devils and Rangers can’t get here fast enough!

It’s been a wonky year for the Preds, so the fact that they’re still sitting one point off the Jets, though having played two games more, is a real work by Peter Laviolette. Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, PK Subban, Kyle Turris (still) have all missed serious time, and yet here they are. Unfortunately for the Hawks, all but Turris are back in the lineup and this is just about as close to the full Predators experience as they’ve been since the beginning of the season.

To wit, a team that had won two of 10 road games before Monday went out and promptly destroyed the Leafs in Toronto, winning 4-0 and holding perhaps the biggest arsenal in the league to 18 shots. So yeah, that’s not exactly encouraging for tonight.

The Preds had something of a dip in December, as both Juuse Saros and Ol’Shit Hip fell off their hot pace. Which makes you think it was a structural thing, and it might have been as without Subban you’re only going to get away with playing Dan Hamhuis and his walking stick as a second pairing player for so long. Still, even with that, the Preds are third in the league in shots against overall per game and sixth in scoring-chances against at even-strength. They’re top-10 in both team Corsi-percentage and scoring-chance-percentage. The one area they’re deficient is they’re 18th in high-danger-scoring-chance-percentage, mostly because they don’t create a ton. That is probably a product of not having Arvidsson and Forsberg for a while, because this is a team that has always depended on its top line to do most of the damage. That has been corrected now.

It’s still perhaps the most devastating blue line in the league, with all of Ellis, Josi, and PK among the premier puck-movers in the league (sidenote: Has anyone in recent history racked up a more impressive social resume than Lindsey Vonn? If she were a dude she’d be Tony Stark. Get it, girl). This is clearly their strength.

Also, in four games in January they’ve given up four goals in regulation, with three of those somehow coming to the Red Wings. So yeah, the goalies are probably fine now. Go get ’em, Hawks!

For the Hawks, the question will be tonight where does the returning, conquering hero Henri Jokiharju slot in. The Hawks may have caught a break in that Brent Seabrook is sick, which would give them shelter to keep The HarJu on his normal side, on a shielded third-pairing, and keep the other two pairings together, as they’ve been working. No word on whether Colliton/Bowman spiked Seabrook’s nachos-for-four last night at Four Moons.

That will be for one night, but the Hawks are going to have to answer that question soon enough. The simplest and best solution would be to pair Keith and Seabrook again, but make that your third pairing. Then you can slot the four of Dahlstrom, Murphy, Gustafsson, and HarJu any way you want. You can leave Dahlstrom and Murphy to do the hard work-which they haven’t been as good at of late but it’s the best you’ve got–and let Gustafsson and Jokiharju bumslay a bit. Or you just divide it up evenly with Dalshtrom letting Jokiharju freelance more and Murphy doing the same for Gustafsson and Keith and Seabrook take the rest. This is the easiest and cleanest solution, and hence it’ll be the one the Hawks don’t take.

No word on what goalie is going tonight as it was a pretty informal get-together this morning. You would think it would have to be Delia, but we keep saying that. The other change is John Hayden is in for Chris Kunitz. Contain your excitement, we just mopped.

Not much to say here. The Hawks have played the Preds tough since giving up the first four goals to them in their first meeting in Nashville, and beat them there later. But this is the full Preds death squad minus Turris. And with something to play for. Might want to hide under your seat for this one.

 

Game #46 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

J.R. Lind is always our Preds guy. Follow him on Twitter @JRLind.

The Predators have only won two of their last nine on the road. What’s the story there?
It’s hard to discount the injuries the team had to deal with in the last bit of 2018: Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, P.K. Subban and Colton Sissons all missed significant time and now Kyle Turris is out for a bit. The Preds were also due for a bit of a come-down, particularly on the road, where they started out so hot. The good news is guys are starting to come back and the team looked as good as they’ve looked all season Monday against Toronto with a 4-0 win and holding the Leafs to 18 shots.
Both Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros had something of a rough go in December. So does that make it a team problem more than the goalies having a down stretch?
 
Based on both guys’ last few starts, it seems like it was a general team issue, particularly on the back end. Subban’s injury led to Laviolette having to do some unusual things with the pairings, occasionally splitting up Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi and sticking, say, Dan Hamhuis – an extremely good third pair guy, but a little long in the tooth – on the first pair or playing Matt Irwin with Mattias Ekholm and so on. Since the calendar turned, the team is 3-0-1 and Saros has given up one goal in his last two starts and Rinne is coming off that shutout. I suspect Chicago will get Rinne as a divisional foe with Columbus coming on the other side of the back-to-back, but both guys have looked a lot better as the injured players have returned.
How much of this is Arvidsson and Forsberg being out?
 
Losing your two top goal-scorers is going to hurt any team, and then add into what those guys bring physically – Forsberg probably doesn’t get enough credit for that part of his game and Arvidsson is a stellar forechecker – and Nashville had to make some adjustments. It also had a ripple effect down the lines, with guys like Ryan Hartman and Phil Di Giuseppe actually seeing time on Ryan Johansen’s wing. But for a team that expects to play into June, getting more minutes for depth guys isn’t necessarily a bad thing and the extra ice time helped jumpstart Kevin Fiala, who had looked moribund early.
What will the Preds be looking for at the deadline?
 
Similar to last year with Hartman, a middle-six or bottom-six wing with a little size or physicality. The rash of injuries this year really put into focus how important depth can be and the series against the Jets last year – and it seems inevitable Winnipeg and Nashville will face-off again – the Preds did get pushed around a little. They don’t need a big, splashy move and I’m not saying Wayne Simmonds, but Wayne Simmonds.

 

Game #46 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

This one’s on us. We didn’t give our Nashville friends enough time for this, so we’ll just rerun what we did with JR Lind a couple weeks ago when the Hawks were in Nashville. We’ll make it up to you. 

Most points in the West, second-best goal difference, the Vezina leader…is there anything to complain about in Predators Land?
 
As Blackhawks fans know, there’s always something to complain about, no matter how sterling the season is. Obviously, the Preds are very, very good and were able to sustain success from last season with a minimum of moves (David Poile’s biggest free agency acquisition was bringing back Dan Hamhuis on the traditional This Guy Used To Play Here Contract).
The acute complaint is that the Preds are on a two-game losing streak, just the second time this season they’ve gone consecutive games without a point; largely this is a result of a bizarre inability to solve the Arizona Coyotes.
The more chronic issue is the power play (currently 30th ahead of only…uh hi!). It’d be easy to blame that on the recent spate of injuries with Viktor Arvidsson, Kyle Turris and Pernell Karl Subban all out, though it was worse when everyone was reasonably healthy.
Kevin Fiala has been in a season-long slump (he finally scored five-on-five Tuesday) in what many expected to be a big year for him after a breakout season last year. And while he was sparkling when he was playing everyday when Pekka Rinne was injured, Juuse Saros has been mediocre in a lot of his spot starts lately.
There’s always something to complain about.
Seriously, how has Pekka Rinne been able to come up with a career renaissance at 35?
 
After his surgery and then missing so much time because of the post-surgical infection, it really looked like he was on the downhill. Then goalie Yoda Mitch Korn left with Barry Trotz and the overwhelming feeling really was that it was time for Poile to go franchise goalie hunting in the ninth round again. And then we all realized there wasn’t a ninth round anymore. Fortunately, Rinne had a career year and finally won the Vezina, signed a very team friendly extension for two more years counting $5 million against the cap (somehow David Poile got the guy to take a pay cut after winning a Vezina).
So I don’t know what kind of magic he’s working. The only complaint (and this is a weird one, I recognize) is that he might be playing too well, because as a Preds fan, you’d like his regular season workload to be a little lighter so he’s tanned, rested and ready for the playoffs. Last season, he played a lot more down the stretch as the Preds pushed for the President’s Trophy and as he secured the Vezina. Ideally, he’d get a lot more rest in March and April.
If there’s one quibble, the Preds have gotten 14 goals from Filip Forsberg but no more than eight from anyone else. Is scoring something of a worry down the line? Or is the socialist method of scoring going to see them through?
Part of that is the injuries. Arvidsson, who hasn’t played since Nov. 10 and is out for a few more weeks, is the guy with eight. Then it’s a jumble of dudes – nine with between four and seven goals, led by Old Friend Ryan Hartman (who I contend should just be signed to a series of one-year deals from now until the end of time).
Arvidsson’s absence has meant a rotation on Ryan Johansen‘s wing opposite Forsberg, which has included such strange experiments as Rocco Grimaldi. The STF line of Smith-Turris-Fiala has been ho-hum outside of Turris, who is hurt. Smith is inconsistent and Fiala can’t score. But, there are worse things that having one guy who scores 40, another who scores 25 in an injury-plagued year and nine or 10 who go for 15 to 20.
How is the power play this bad with all the weaponry on it? (please don’t turn this question around on us)
 
Who knows? Nothing seems to work. Subban is hurt and Ryan Ellis has had trouble scoring (at evens and on the power play), which takes away two of the big outside weapons. With Arvidsson out, the coaches haven’t really found a consistent net-front threat (having tried Nick Bonino, among others, down low). Eventually, it’ll click, we’re told, but it’s getting close to 30 games in now and it’s still 14 some-odd percent so.

 

Game #36 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

Hey, remember two years ago when Ryan Johansen signaled the new wave of young centers that was going to take over the league and send players like Jonathan Toews to a farm upstate? Remember how analysts like Pierre McGuire stained their shorts over shots of Johansen barking at Ryan Kesler, as if that wasn’t something that happened every night and whenever Kesler goes to the CVS? Remember Johansen playing him into dust before getting hurt?

We hope you better, because you probably won’t see it again.

While Predators fans were busy proclaiming Johansen the NEXT THING and their first #1 center in team history, they forgot to notice he turned back into the underachieving lard-ass that got him punted from Columbus in the first place. He had less points than Jonathan Toews last year, and everyone was doing their best to put a toe-tag on Toews last year. He has less points than Toews this year. He has five goals.

Sure, he can float around the outside in a perfect imitation of Ryan Getzlaf, another player who finds it hard to locate the box marked “Fucks To Give” most nights, and rack up assists and Filip Forsberg drags his ass into relevance (no small feat). It helps that Forsberg is shooting 16% this year, and it also helps that he rips.

Maybe Johansen is saving it for the spring, as he’s been a dynamic playoff performer the past two runs the Preds have had. He was over a point-per-game last year as Nashville got to the very end of the second round. Maybe the game getting more about battles on the boards is good for him as no one can properly deal with his bloated frame. We’re sure the Preds are delighted to hand $8 million to a player who doesn’t care until April, if he even does then.

Johansen is obscenely talented, which is how he can rack up 50-60 points like clockwork without really putting himself into it. It’s why when he does care he looks like a world-beater. But it seems that when it counts, he’ll come up against someone who is just better, or at least wants it more than he does, much like Mark Scheifele last year. He’ll see Scheifele again. He may see an even better Nathan MacKinnon again. The Sharks might throw three different centers at him if they get that far.

Don’t you worry, RyJo Sen will be reaching for the M&Ms soon enough.

 

Game #36 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built