So far in this season of the National Hockey League, injuries have been a plenty. Across the board every NHL team featured a substantial injury or two.
However, there has been one team able to avoid the issue of a long term injury to a key player or players. That team is the Nashville Predators.
Aside from the team being one of the hottest teams in hockey as of late, they have been gifted by the hockey gods. Up to today, the Predators lost a total of 60 man-games due to injury or illness, one of the lowest number of man-games lost in the entire league.
Jason Arnott – Missed from October 21st to October 31st
Wade Belak – Missed from November 14th to November 19th
J.P. Dumont – Missed from October 8th to October 14th and then missed November 5th to November 10th.
Martin Erat – Missed from October 29th to November 5th
Dan Hamhuis – Missed from October 17th to October 24th
Dave Scatchard – Missed from November 28th to December 5th and then missed from December 15th to December 19th.
Jordan Tootoo – Missed from October 3rd to October 31st and is currently out till mid-Janurary.
Joel Ward – Missed from October 3rd to October 8th
Shea Weber – Missed from November 5th to November 7th
Colin Wilson – Missed from October 3 to October 10th and then missed from November 5th to November 21st.
As you can see, there are some big names for the Predators organization on this list. Conversely, aside from Tootoo the entire team is healthy with only Arnott and Wilson missing more then five games.
The Predators have been healthy, for the most part, and this is one of the main reasons why they currently sit in the fifth seed of the Western Conference. As of this writing, the team has won three straight and are 6-2-2 over their last 10 games played.
The usual suspects who are expected to perform are performing with all the pieces falling in place for coach Barry Trotz. .
Steve Sullivan, who has had major back problems in his career and sat out a lengthy amount of time, returned last season proving he was healthy and ready to play. On the year, he has 23 points in 35 games and 11 in his past nine.
Dumont posted 23 points in 28 games and has been a great line mate to Arnott who, in turn potted 22 points in 29 games.
Erat, finally living up to the contract he signed, has 21 points in 32 games — 11 of which points are goals. The 28-year-old boasted a career high in goals with 23 in 2008. This year the Trebic, Czechoslovakia native is on pace for 28.
D-men Weber and Ryan Suter collected 18 points a piece this year. A blue line of mobility where they can contribute both offensively and be defensively responsible has helped this team out ten-fold.
David Legwand, enjoying a return to form, provides decent secondary scoring with 22 points in 35 games.
As you can see, it is a full team effort that comes out of Nashville. The forwards and the defensemen all contribute. All but four players notched at least one point with the team.
The tandem of Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne in nets provides a stability the team desperately needs. Ellis played in 15 games, posting a 7-5-1 record with a .911 save percentage and a 2.65 goals against average. While Rinne, in 25 games, posts a 14-6-2 record with a .905 save percentage, a 2.75 goals against average and two shutouts.
Sure, those are not outstanding numbers that blow you away but the tandem gets the job done when called upon. The team shows confidence in Trotz’s system which leads them to their success. The entire team gels as a whole and performs up to standards.
Call ups, when needed, have also exceeded expectations.
Alexander Sulzer, Cody Franson, Wilson and Ryan Jones as well as the entire cast of youngsters have surprised the opposition and coaching staff alike with the level of play they have contributed. Off-season acquisition Francis Bouillon has been an anchor and a solid addition to an already impressive blue line.
It is this reporter’s opinion that the Predators are en route to a playoff birth this year. If they can manage to stay healthy, they should be a darkhorse team in the Western Conference. On a side note, for all you tweeps out there, I suggest following: @PredsOnTheGlass, @TheViewfrom111 and @Forechecker for all your Preds needs.
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