The Weekly Predator (March 14th/11)
Last week the Predators started turning around their recent slide that sent them falling out of the playoffs by acquiring 5 of 8 points going 2-1-1. With 3 of those games against teams in the hunt for the playoffs that’s not a bad week by any means.
This week is going to be a hard week for the Preds as they have to face the Kings, Bruins, Detroit and Buffalo. The first three games are home games for the Predators and should give them a little help against the tougher teams that they will face. The Preds are currently 17-7-7 at home which fairs well for them as their nest 10 of 13 are at home to close out the season.
As of late the Preds have had the line of Erat-Legwand-Ward step-up and start producing like they should. Erat and Ward are 5 and 3 game point streaks with Legwand having his streak snapped last game against Colorado. This has been key to the Preds getting points of late as before no one line took control and was a real scoring threat to the opponents. On paper this line looks like it should work as Ward is a big player that makes space and is very good on the cycle, while Erat is suppose to be a shooter but Preds fans know he always tends to make one too many passes. While Legwand is the set-up man and makes passes to create goals. In the past few games this has been what’s happening, Ward has been cashing in on rebounds from people shooting, while Legwand was 7 assist in his past 10 games and Erat has been doing a little bit of everything.
Part of me wants to think that Fisher rubbed off a little on Erat as though Fisher hasn’t scored or produced a lot he is a tireless worker who you can always tell when he’s on the ice. He was apparently injured though earlier in the year and has not taken time to rest it, as against the Wild he missed the last 17 min of the third period resting. He did play against Colorado, but was not taking face-offs during the game, so something is obliviously wrong with him. I have heard people say that he tore rib cartilage when he was with Ottawa and is now trying to play through it. If that is true than he should be given a little bit of slack as that would affect his offense quite a lot.
On a quick note I have to say I am really impressed by how well Tootoo has been playing since returning from the substance program. He has be creating chances, hitting and creating a lot of energy for the team as of late. He may not be score a lot or get points but he has be crucial in this team winning lately as he sets a tempo and forces both his team and the other to match.
Recently there has been a lot of talk about what the Preds are going to be doing during the offseason with some people playing it out and saying what they would like Poile to do, so I’m going to take my own stab at it right now:
1. Let’s start with who to re-sing and let walk. Obviously this team needs to re-sing Weber, now there is some debate out there on whether they should keep Suter or Weber and I actually wrote a blog on that so go check it out if you want my opinion. After that Sullivan unfortunately should be let go, he’s a great guy but seems to have lost his touch around the net and is losing foot speed. Ward should be re-signed to a similar contract as he has proven that he can play every role and excel at it if he puts effort there. Now comes the log jam at center, assuming good health the club will have 5 centers with Goc, Spaling, and O’Reilly needing new contracts. I can see Goc being let go as O’Reilly can essentially replace him and Spaling has proven a valuable defensive asset that may be able to develop some offense. As well Kostitsyn should be-signed to another 1 or 2 year deal to keep him motivated. Finally there is O’Brien, he has been good for the team and I can see Poile re-signing him for less than his current contract at about 1 mill, but I would rather him not as ii believe we have to begin bringing in these younger defenseman and let them play.
2. Now let’s take a quick look at players that Poile should look at acquiring, as for UFA’s I would hope he takes a look at players like: Liach, Fleischmann, Leino, or Kopecky as all should be reasonable except maybe Leino and add that scoring punch the team needs to go along with its great depth.
As I said earlier this is a big week for the Predators as they will face some good competition but need to come out with wins or at least points. Especially against L.A on Tuesday as that could in a sense make it or break it for Nashville as that is a team they are right behind in the standings.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back again next week.
Greg Duley (@G_Duley)