Thursday, January 27, 2011

Report Card: All-Star Break Edition

We've reached the All-Star break of the 2010-2011 NHL season and the Nashville Predators find themselves in 4th place in the Western Conference. With only 32 games remaining in the regular season, Nashville sits six points behind Detroit in the central division. The most impressive part about this is how the Predators have done it. During the course of this season, the Predators have had injuries to J.P. Dumont, Martin Erat, Marcel Goc, Sergei Kostitsyn, David Legwand, Matthew Lombardi, Cal O'Reilly, Steve Sullivan, Marek Svatos, Francis Bouillon, Ryan Suter, and Pekka Rinne. Lombardi, O'Reilly, Sullivan, Svatos, and Bouillon are all still injured. So, in total, the Preds have had 12 different players injured so far this year. This is even discounting the situation with Jordin Tootoo.

So, given the situation, it's remarkable that the Preds currently sit in 4th place. I've got to give all the credit in the world to Barry Trotz. I ripped him earlier this season, but I think this is his best coaching job yet. The key will be reaching the post-season and advancing. TEAM GRADE- A-

Now, here is a grade for each individual player:

#3 Wade Belak- The guy is a tough, physical player but really doesn't have much value to the team on the ice. He's a good guy to have in the locker room though. GRADE- C-

#4 Cody Franson- Franson has played pretty well throughout this season. The kid has the size of Weber, and a pretty hard slapshot of his own when he decides to crank it up. He can be a bit sloppy defensively sometimes, but is normally good. GRADE- B+

#6 Shea Weber- Weber is the captain of the team and the only member to be selected to the All-Star game. He started off slow but has recently been on a blistering pace offensively, and is the leading scorer for the Preds. GRADE- A

#8 Kevin Klein- Klein's game has slightly improved recently. He's not doing the stupid things he normally does as often. He's starting to just make the easy play instead of trying to force things. The beginning of the year was awful though. GRADE- D+

#9 Marcel Goc- Goc has been pretty good this year. He was injured for a while off of the cheapshot by Backstrom in the Washington game, but has since returned and is playing well. GRADE- B

#10 Martin Erat- Erat has been up and down this year. He has had injury problems, but has also played well at times. He seems to be cutting down on the mental mistakes. GRADE- B-

#11 David Legwand- Ah. Legwand. He's been pretty good defensively so far this year and occasionally chips in on the offensive front. I'm going to surprise Phillip with this. GRADE- B+

#13 Nick Spaling- Spaling is a kid that everybody roots for. He works hard every night and has recently been rewarded with a little bit of offense. He's played his role effectively so far this year. GRADE- A-

#15 Matthew Lombardi- I'd sure like to tell you because the kid can fly. I don't know if people really understand how good this team can be if we're healthy. GRADE- N/A

#16 Cal O'Reilly- Cal was playing extremely well at the beginning of the year, but his play declined a bit before his injury. It will be nice to get him back in the next month hopefully. GRADE- B-

#20 Ryan Suter- Sutes really proved how valuable he was when he was injured. The team really just fell apart. He's the quarterback of the power-play, he's the best puck handler on the team by far, and he's great defensively. He should be in Raleigh alongside Weber. GRADE- A

#22 Jordin Tootoo- Jordin has had some off of the ice problems, but was playing smart hockey before that. Also, he delivered the hardest hit so far this year in the NHL to Michael Frolik of the Panthers. GRADE- B-

#24 Matt Halischuk- In the few games that he's played for Nashville, I've been really impressed by him. GRADE- B

#25 Jerred Smithson- Smitty has played pretty well so far this year. He's a great faceoff guy and kills penalties well. He's earned the contract extension that he was given. GRADE- B+

#26 Steve Sullivan- Sully was having a pretty solid season before the injury. However, he passes up attempts on the rush more than anybody on the team(including Erat and Ward). GRADE- B-

#27 Patric Hornqvist- Horndog has had a pretty solid year so far. He's always in the grill of the opposing goaltender and really has a knack for finding lose pucks and creating traffic. So many goals have been scored from the point this year simply because Hornqvist was screening the goalie. On those plays, he wasn't even credited with points, but his work is obvious. GRADE- A-

#29 Joel Ward- I've not been very impressed with Ward all year. His work along the boards isn't what it has been previously, and his offensive touch isn't there at all. Also, he's made several stupid decisions. GRADE- D-

#33 Colin Wilson- Willy has played well this year. He's good with the puck, has the ability to score goals, and has played smart defensively. He's really coming along nicely. GRADE- B+

#35 Pekka Rinne- Peks went through a bit of a slump in November, but has been lights out since. He's had a couple of injuries, but they haven't had a negative reaction towards his play. He should be in Raleigh with Weber as well. GRADE- A

#39 Anders Lindback- Lindback has turned into a fan favorite because of his play and his personality. When Rinne was injured, Lindback was crucial to the success of the Preds and has played well. There have been a few hiccups lately though. He's going to be an important piece to the puzzle down the road. GRADE- B+

#40 Marek Svatos- Svatos has been a good pickup off of the waiver wire. Until he was injured(notice a pattern here?), he was playing well. GRADE- B+

#51 Francis Bouillon- The Cube has been a valuable player for the Preds so far this year until he was injured. He is very sound defensively and brings a physical edge to his game every night. GRADE- B+

#52 Alexander Sulzer- I'm not a big fan. His play has gotten better during the last 5 games, but before that he was awful(worse than Klein). He's a step or two slow and makes very bad decisions sometimes. GRADE- D-

#53 Chris Mueller- I was impressed with this kid when he was up here(was sent back to Milwaukee yesterday along with Halischuk, but I'd expect them to be back at some point). He's a hard worker and chipped in offensively. GRADE- B+

#55 Shane O'Brien- I like this guy. He's a good guy off of the ice, and has played admirably well on the ice. Much better than I expected. GRADE- B

#58 Linus Klasen- I saw touches of offensive capability when he was up with Nashville, but he still has a lot of work to do(especially defensively). GRADE- C

#71 J.P. Dumont- Up until recently, I was disappointed in Dumont's play. He's picked it up as of late, but I expect more out of him the rest of the year. GRADE- C-

#74 Sergei Kostitsyn- SK74 started off injured and not very good, but he's gotten a lot better since. He's one of the best offensive threats on the team, and looks comfortable here in Nashville. GRADE- A-


  1. Klein a D+? Really? Lowest penalty minutes among defensemen, except Sulzer ( who has played in less than half the games and only has 3 less minutes of penalties), Leads team in blocked shots, leads the team in minutes on the PK on the top-five-in-the-league PK, is a +6. Dumont gets a c- because he got a hat trick recently? Everybody else who is "improving" gets a pass but not Klein? He is third in avg TOI and shifts per game, yet he has nothing to do with the teams success? Your bias sucks, and if you looked at all the stats without knowing whose stats they were, you would be saying "wow, this guy is having a great year!" You are a Kleinist. Cisar,Otf. (I don't have any of these other "comment as" accounts, but you know where to find me)

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. @Cisar I'm not biased against Klein. Each stat you laid out is true. He also gets burned constantly, makes stupid decisions, and bad turnovers. There's a reason 90% of PredNation holds their breath when Klein is on the ice. The worst part of his game is his positioning, which leads to scoring chances for the opposition. I wish the best for the guy, and I hope he improves. I actually like him as a person.

  4. The worst part of his game is when he is played at the left defenseman position filling in for whomever (Suter, usually). He does not get burned "constantly", He occasionally has a bad turnover, these have been well documented. Suter and Weber had a ton of bad plays in the last chicago game and the Calgary game (turnovers, out of position etc..). It happens. His positioning can't be that bad, if he is leading the team in blocked shots. His quality of opponents rating is highest on the team, I believe. If he were not 'good', the Preds would not be as successful. You should rethink your rating of him, methinks.
    In other news, you guys do some good work over here, don't think I only come here to bash you. Also, thanks for allowing anonymous posts. I hate having to sign up for anything just to have an opinion. Cisar

  5. Cisar I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. I will keep a closer eye on Klein throughout the remainder of the year. I really appreciate your opinion. That's the main reason why I do this!

  6. You have an On the Forecheck account? Who are you?

  7. I don't, although I do read Chris and Dirk's stuff every day and they're fantastic.

  8. I'm glad you listened about Legwand, however begrudgingly.

    And I too agree that Klein sucks. Cisar, you are correct that it might simply be bias...but I havent seen anything to make me change my mind...yet. I will agree that his PK play has come lightyears along.