Nashville Predators lost in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s a tough pill to swallow considering the Predators controlled almost the entire game.
The Nashville Predators played their first game in Chicago since sweeping them in the playoffs last season. During the pregame show, the Predators broadcast was showing a montage of Chicago Blackhawks fans and players after the sweep. It was glorious. I felt like I could watch their sad faces for the next three hours instead of the game, and still be happy. Nonetheless, the show did, in fact, go on. And, boy, was it a good one.
The Nashville Predators definitely came ready to play. They controlled the pace for almost the entire game. But in the end, they lost in overtime. Although they got their first road point this season, it still felt like they deserved two.
The biggest thing Head Coach Peter Laviolette has stressed since joining the team was shooting. He wants the Predators to outshoot their opponent every night. The more shots the Nashville Predators can get on net, the more chances they can score. Last night, the Predators were shooting.
At the end of the first, Nashville had a shot lead of 18 – 11. That is just shots on net, however. The Predators had actually attempted 36 shots. That is definitely a good sign for Laviolette and his team. The Predators would end the game with a total of 38 shots on net. Take a look at this heat map to see where the Predators were getting their shots from.
This game was only their second of the year with at least 30 shots on net. For the Predators to succeed the rest of the year, they need to continue to get 30+ shots per game.
The Nashville Predators entered the game towards the bottom of the league in penalty kill this season. At times, they have looked downright atrocious. But, they redeemed themselves last night. The Predators were able to kill off all eight of their penalties against a lethal Blackhawks power play unit. The Predators attacked every Blackhawks entry at the blueline. Often times, they were able to steal the puck and head a rush down to the other end. If the penalty kill unit can continue to play like they did last night, the Predators will be one of the top teams in the league on special teams.
The reason I just said “on special teams” instead of “on penalty kill” is because the Predators have been great all year long on the power play. With a goal on the PP last night, the Nashville Predators are third in the league in power play percentage at 29.2. I said it during the preseason: the new penalty rules mean the Predators have a great opportunity to score a lot more this season. If their powerplay unit can stay on fire, they will be filling up the scoresheet every night. Not to mention, Filip Forsberg leads the league with his four power-play goals.
A big reason the power play unit has been so successful is the additions of Scott Hartnell and Nick Bonino. Both of those players thrive in camping in front of the net. They use their big bodies to provide traffic in front to screen goalies. Hartnell has definitely proved his worth so far with three points on the power play. That is the fourth highest total in the NHL.
Last night, Hartnell’s savvy redirect of a P.K. Subban shot led the puck right to Forsberg’s stick. The rest was history. Take a look below and reminisce.
You can bet you will be seeing a lot more of that all season long.
One thing that goes hand-in-hand with getting more shots on net is possession. The more time your team possesses the puck, the more opportunities they are going to have to shoot the puck. And, as Laviolette has stressed, the more shots you have, the more chances to score. Thankfully, we have a couple of really good stats we can use to understand the tide of possession, Corsi and Fenwick. Both statistics measure the amount of shots heading towards both nets. Fenwick takes in to account blocked shots as being a skill, therefore it disregards shots that are blocked or don’t make it to the net. Let’s take a look at the possession stats on the game last night.
Through the first two periods, the Nashville Predators were dominating possession. Even if you account for all situations besides five on five, they still were dominating (The reason you don’t generally account for situations outside of five on five is because being on a power play almost always guarantees you will have more possession of the puck, and being on the penalty kill almost always guarantees you will have less possession). The reason I am going to include all situations during the first two periods is because even when the Predators had six penalties vs. Chicago’s five, they still dominated possession.
Through the first two periods, the Predators had a combined Corsi For% (CF%) of 59.8. That is some serious possession time. What’s more, they had a Fenwick For% (FF%) of 66.2 after 2. The Nashville Predators were dominating the game while entering the third period with the lead.
Unfortunately, the game would change from the start of the third period through overtime. The Chicago Blackhawks flipped the script of possession on the Nashville Predators. After the third period, the Predators had around 34% for both CF% and FF% leading to the Blackhawks to tie it up and push the game to overtime. It got worse in overtime. The Predators held a 12.5 CF% and a 14.29FF%. Ultimately, that lack of possession led to the Blackhawks scoring the game-winner in overtime.
In the end, the Predators lost the game in overtime. After looking at the possession stats, it is obvious why. You cannot let a team with as many weapons as the Blackhawks have control of the puck like that. They will burn you every time. However, this game was one of the best played by the Nashville Predators so far this season. If it wasn’t for Chicago’s goalie, Corey Crawford, standing on his head all night, the Predators probably would have had a much bigger lead going into the third period. If the Predators keep playing like they did in the first two periods, they will easily make it back to the Playoffs.