It was a month of changes for the Nashville Predators in January. The team made some big changes and managed to find some consistency before the All-Star Break. We’ve had over a week to digest what went down that month, and that allows us some time to give it proper analysis.
We saw trades, injuries, roster moves, slumps and winning streaks in an eventful month for the Predators. The main theme for the month (and for plenty of the others) has been inconsistency. Nashville looks like the contender in one game, but then looks like a team that could fall out of a playoff spot (which it did for time during the month.)
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Like I’ve done at the end of each month, I’ll ask the readers to give a grade for the Predators for the previous month.
The Johansen-Jones Trade
Normally all I grade on is the on-ice performance of the team. However, I will add the move GM David Poile made to get top center Ryan Johansen. Some has worries that giving up young defenseman Seth Jones would be too high a price to get the coveted pivot, but Johansen has fit in nicely with the team.
Johansen scored on his first shot with the team and has been one of the rocks on a Jekyll and Hyde-esque team. He’s given the Predators steady scoring and shored up their early-season faceoff problems.
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He’s also a bargain at $4 million on his deal that will run out at the end of next season. This is a move that Poile should get high marks for making.
Nashville at times has been a team that many can’t put a finger on. The club is known for its deep defense and usually solid goaltending. We saw the Predators live up to those expectations in an almost-perfect 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 16, but that win stopped a four-game losing streak that saw them give 4.25 goals a contest.
The Predators wrapped up the month with a much-needed four-game sweep of the Western Canadian teams. Nashville looked like its old self with stifling defense, clutch scoring and great goaltending. The wins showed how the team can play when it’s executing properly. The team only gave up one goal each game during that pre-All-Star Game trip.
That was the Nashville Predators team that people have grown accustomed to.
One player that has been at the center of Nashville’s inconsistent form is Pekka Rinne. The Finnish netminder grabbed three of those wins in the Canadian trip and looked good doing so. Rinne gave up barely over a goal a game and registered a .963 save percentage.
However, the Finn had a stretch of four straight games where his save percentage did not reach .900. He was torched for five goals in Nashville’s 5-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 14.
There’s no doubt that Rinne has often carried the slack for the team when scoring had some dry spells, but he needs to find some consistency in his game. The Predators can move up the standings if Rinne finds his game and returns to the goalie that made Nashville great in the first half of last season.
My Grade For the Nashville Predators for January
It’s really hard to gauge the team for January when one gets a mixed bag. The move for Johansen certainly gets an A, but the play gets a B- from me. Some better play would have earned the team a better grade and some peace of mind for their fans.
What do you think of the grade? Vote in the poll below.
Dan Mount is a Nashville Predators staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter, @DanMountSports.