Thursday, March 1, 2012

Report Card: Coming down the stretch



The Nashville Predators currently sit in fifth place in the Western Conference with 81 points and a 37-20-7 record. Even though the Predators have the fifth best point total in the entire NHL, they still sit in third place in the Central Division after 64 games.

So far this season, Hockey Night in Nashville has taken a look at each individual player's performance on two separate occasions and evaluated that performance. Now, we will take a look at each individual performance for a third time to see how each player is progressing as the Predators move toward the playoffs.

FORWARDS

#10 Martin Erat- Erat is the leading point producer for Nashville so far this season, and is arguably playing with more consistency than he ever has before in his NHL career. He's been an underrated player in the NHL all year, and seems to be ready for a good offensive burst in the final 17 games of the regular season. 20-game Grade: B+, Mid-season Grade: B+, Grade heading into March: A-

#11 David Legwand- Legwand started the season off with a bang offensively but wasn't as defensively responsible as he has normally is. Since then, Legwand has become a more balanced player. He is a veteran leader on this team, and his two-way play will be critical for Nashville down the stretch. 20-game Grade: A, Mid-season Grade: A-, Grade heading into March: A-

#12 Mike Fisher- Since the Mid-season report card was published, Fisher has collected 10 goals and eight assists. He struggled with his consistency in the first half of the year, but has since been a lot better in that area of the game. The knock on Fisher as of late, however, has been his faceoffs. Fisher is 48.8 percent in the faceoff circle this year. 20-game Grade: B+, Mid-season Grade:C+, Grade heading into March: B

#13 Nick Spaling- Spaling has been pretty good in the faceoff circle, winning 51.7 percent of his draws. However, his offensive game hasn't been as productive lately as it was during the first part of the season. He has just six points in his last 24 games. 20-game Grade: C, Mid-season Grade: B, Grade heading into March: C+

#15 Craig Smith- He's had his ups and downs this year. Smith has definitely been on both ends of the ebbs and flows of being a rookie in the NHL. He's got a lot of offensive upside, but just needs to reestablish the consistency in his game. 20-game Grade: A+, Mid-season Grade: B, Grade heading into March: C

#18 Brandon Yip- Since being acquired off of waivers from Colorado, Yip has been a nice role player for the Predators. Nashville is 9-2-2 when Yip has been in the lineup for them this year, and he's proven to be a bit of an X-factor. He can fight, he's played some time on the power play and he is defensively responsible in his own end. Grade heading into March: B

#22 Jordin Tootoo- Having already set a career high in points with 29, Tootoo's offensive game is better than it ever has been. The most impressive thing about Tootoo this year, however, has been his decision making. He doesn't take that silly penalty that leaves you scratching your head anymore. 20-game Grade: C-, Mid-season Grade: A, Grade heading into March- B+

#23 Brian McGrattan- McGrattan hasn't played in a game for the Predators since February 4th, but he certainly knows his role when he does play. He's one of the best fighters in the NHL, and is a good guy to have around the Nashville locker room. 20-game Grade: B+, Mid-season Grade: B+, Grade heading into March: C+

#24 Matt Halischuk- His 12 goals from the fourth line have been an added bonus for the Predators. Halischuk is a guy that skates hard on every shift, and he's been rewarded with a few nice goals so far this season. 20-game Grade: B, Mid-season Grade: A-, Grade heading into March: B+

#27 Patric Hornqvist- Hornqvist is tied with Fisher for the team lead in goals with 18 on the season. He's a guy that does all of the dirty work around the net, and he's not afraid to go to the hard areas for his team. However, the knock on Hornqvist has always been his consistency. 20-game Grade: A, Mid-season Grade: C+, Grade heading into March: B

#28 Paul Gaustad- Has not played a game for the Predators yet, but is expected to have a big impact during Nashville's postseason run. Grade: N/A

#33 Colin Wilson- Wilson seems to have matured as a player so far this year. He's still inconsistent at times, however. When he is playing up to his potential, he is one of the most dominant players on the ice. When he's not, he's virtually invisible. 20-game Grade: A-, Mid-season Grade: A-, Grade heading into March: B+

#46 Andrei Kostitsyn- He's played in one game for Nashville since being acquired at the trading deadline, but the sample size is too small to really evaluate him. Grade: N/A

#57 Gabriel Bourque- Bourque is a guy that always seems to be flying on the ice. He never takes a shift off, and is tenacious on the forecheck. He's put up 10 points in 26 games played, so he could stand to step it up offensively a little bit. Mid-season Grade: B, Grade heading into March: B

#74 Sergei Kostitsyn- He's one of the best offensive weapons for the Predators. He's a fluid passer, and has a great snapshot when he chooses to pull the trigger. The knock on him has always been his unwillingness to shoot the puck. 20-game Grade: B-, Mid-season Grade: C, Grade heading into March: B

DEFENSEMEN


#6 Shea Weber- So far this season, Weber is having a Norris Trophy-caliber year. He is the most complete defenseman in the NHL. He can hit, score, pass, fight and skate. Weber is second among NHL defensemen in goals with 14 on the season. 20-game Grade: A, Mid-season Grade: A+, Grade heading into March: A+

#8 Kevin Klein- There have been some nights when Klein has been the best defenseman for the Predators. There have been other nights when he has been the worst, but his value to the team is undeniable. He's great on the penalty kill, he blocks shots and he's even developed a pretty decent slapshot. 20-game Grade: A-, Mid-season Grade: B, Grade heading into March: B+

#20 Ryan Suter- Suter has been every bit as valuable as Weber this year. He's one of the best puck-moving defensemen in the NHL, and his positioning is second to none. 20-game Grade: A, Mid-season Grade: A+, Grade heading into March: A+

#38 Jack Hillen- At the beginning of the season, Hillen was wildly inconsistent. Since then, he's been demoted to be the seventh defenseman when everyone on Nashville's defense corps is healthy. However, when he has seen game action as of late, Hillen has been pretty steady on the blueline. 20-game Grade: C+, Mid-season Grade: C, Grade heading into March: C+

#49 Ryan Ellis- When he has been in the lineup, Ellis has been strong for the Predators. He has a world-class shot from the point, and has been defensively responsible in his own end. He is often scrutinized for his size, but that hasn't been an issue so far. Mid-season Grade: B, Grade heading into March: B+

#51 Francis Bouillon- Bouillon has provided veteran leadership on the blueline all season. His physical play has allowed him to be an asset for the Predators this year. However, he has yet to score a goal on the season. 20-game Grade: B+, Mid-season Grade: B+, Grade heading into March: B-

#59 Roman Josi- Josi has struggled in his own end as of late. Turnovers have started to become a problem, but his overall game has been pretty good for a rookie defenseman. He is dazzling with the puck on his stick, and he has a formidable shot from the point. Mid-season Grade: B+, Grade heading into March: B+

#75 Hal Gill- Since being traded to Nashville, the Predators are 5-1-1 with Gill in the lineup. His big body has been extremely valuable to the Predators so far, and his penalty killing has been good. Grade heading into March: B+

GOALTENDERS

#35 Pekka Rinne- Rinne leads the NHL in wins with 35, and has played extremely well for the Predators as of late. He gives them a chance to win every single night, and a player like that is invaluable to a franchise. 20-game Grade: A, Mid-season Grade: B+, Grade heading into March: A+

#39 Anders Lindback- This hasn't been the best season for Lindback. He hasn't been awful when he's been called upon, but he hasn't been stellar either. He doesn't seem to get a lot of goal support when he's in net. Lindback's record on the season is 2-7-0. 20-game Grade: C, Mid-season Grade: C, Grade heading into March: C-

5 comments:

  1. Rob,
    It's hard to disagree with any of your grades, except maybe Josi. I've not been impressed with him, but I've seen some improvement. Good job!

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  2. Good work. Pretty much agree.

    cisar

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  3. Hillen wildly inconsistent? Trotz has continuously praised him for his consistent play. Have to disagree with you there. For his role he has played extremely well and again, considering his role, I would give him a B+.

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  4. I have to respectfully disagree with Colin Wilson's grade. I think he's been highly visible in almost every single game since January. He obviously has short stretches of games when he doesn't score, but who doesn't have those? Tis the way the world turns for 90% of NHL players. He's had three 3-game pointless streaks and one 4-game pointless streak. Other than that, he's had points in approximately every other game or two. You can't ask for more than that. Plus, even during the games when he didn't have a point, he was all over the ice, played like a madman, made smart plays, and was a pretty constant offensive threat. I'd give him another A- for this quarter, but maybe that's just me :)

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