Wild West: Turris and the Red-Hot Preds

Kevin Wickersham


Turris and the Red Hot Preds


By Kevin Wickersham



A quick look at the NHL standings shows last year’s Cup runners-up tied with the Blues atop the Western Conference, and for the NHL’s best record (46 points), despite having played three fewer games. The Predators remain the hottest team in hockey with a 7-1-2 record over their last ten.


So how is Nashville doing it? From both fantasy and real perspectives, recently there’s been a whole lot of goaltending. Checking into the player rankings from our extremely deep Dobber Prospect League (24 teams, 16 scoring categories, keeper rosters = 19 active players, 27-player minor league system per team), Pekka Rinne is our highest-rated player over the last two weeks with a 3-0-1 record, 1.72 goals-against, .949 save percentage, and a shutout.


Admittedly goalie points are highly valued in our league. The second-highest ranked Predator? Juuse Saros at number 10. His 46- and 45-save outings with one shutout (2-0-0, 1.00 goals-against, .978 save percentage) over that time span show he’s over his early season doldrums.


To get to the first Nashville skater we drop down to the 37th spot, where Roman Josi’s three assists and a goal, plus-six, 18 shots on goal and 16 blocks highlight his stat line. Then it’s P.K. Subban (2 G, 2 A, plus-8, 12 blocks, 16 PIM) at 48th, and Mattias Ekholm at 58th (6 A, plus-8, 14 blocks, 3 power play points).


So what does this say? Obviously we value our defense almost as much as goaltending, and plus/minus still matters along with hits, blocks, penalty minutes, and short-handed goals. The well-rounded stat line brings victory. And Nashville’s defense is great by almost any metric, even with Ryan Ellis out.


But in all honesty, it was the Kyle Turris acquisition that really kicked Nashville up a notch. Since his November 11 move south, the Predators have the NHL’s best record at 13-2-2. That’s even while losing Ryan Johansen for three games to injury. Turris has not only registered 17 points in as many games, but his distribution skills (13 points via assist) have helped create a monster second line out of he and two players that tallied just four goals and nine assists in 29 games combined prior to the trade. The squad was 8-5-2 at that point.


Linemates Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith have set blistering paces since, each with eight goals and eight assists since Turris’ arrival. Now opponents have to focus closely on something other than a Forsberg-Johansen- Arvidsson line.