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NHL: Nashville off to fast start

It has been nearly two decades since the Predators came to town. When they got started, their head coach was Barry Trotz and it stayed that way until this season. Under Trotz, the Preds saw limited success the first five seasons as they posted a losing record in each. Then, in the 2003-2004 season, the Predators saw the light. They  would finish the year by making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. They would eventually lose to the Detroit Red Wings in the quarter finals. It would be the start of many early playoff exits under Trotz. The status quo would end this past season as Trotz took his coaching skills to Washington.

The new head coach would have to be someone that could  re-invigorate this franchise, its fans and the NHL. They went put and got Peter Laviolette and lost the initial number one pick in David Legwand. It would be a road tot ravel, but the Preds were ready to start fresh.

This season, they are off to an 11-4-2 start, good enough for third in the Western Conference. They have dramatically improved their puck possession, which is crucial to winning games in the NHL. This has been reflected by the play of their defense led by Shea Weber and Roman Josi. They have been helped tremendously by the stellar play of their #2 defensive line, Ryan Ellis and Mattius Ekhom. Their play has allowed Weber and Josi to focus on the opponents first line offensive stars.

Nashville is also winning games even though they have had one the toughest schedules to start the year. They have played against 10 teas so far this year with a combined record of 78-52-16. That’s what you call holding your own with the best in the league. They were able to stop some winning streaks as well during their most recent home trip.

 

In the NHL, you can’t win without a number one goalie and Pekka Rinne is just that. Between he and Carter Hutton, his backup, they have the best save percentage in the NHL on 5-on-5 play. So far, they have outscored their opponents at even strength, second best to Pittsburgh. These two net minders give the Preds a solid chance to win every night.

So for now, it’s just a matter of sustaining this pace and improving with every game. They are getting solid play form players like Filip Forsberg (eight goals and 12 assists), Mike Ribeiro ( four goals and 10 assists), James Neal (nine goals and five assists) and Craig Smith (six goals). We will see if they can keep up their winning ways in the weeks to come, or if they will fall into one of those usual slumps.

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Ralph Garcia

CEO NGSC Sports


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