Tonight's 5-2 win over the Rangers in Madison Square Garden was much needed, to say the least. In a realistic context, however, the Predators should take this win in the lightest possible terms. For a supposedly high-caliber team that has become a bottom-feeder in its own division, one win every three games isn't anything to get cocky over.
Juuse Saros had his strongest game of the year tonight. He saved 39 of 41 New York shots for a .951 save percentage. Compared to his starts at the beginning of this season, Saros has experienced a tremendous bounce back as of late. The Preds scored three goals on just 22 shots against Alexandar Georgiev- who, on Nov. 2 in Nashville, stopped an impressive 32 of 33 Preds shots.
The captain came roaring back to the scoreboard tonight after going two whole games without recording a point. Roman Josi notched two goals, one assist, and a +3 rating in MSG. Colton Sissons, Nick Bonino, and Ryan Ellis all recorded +3 ratings as well.
Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen were two of just four Preds to record negative ratings tonight- neither of them tallying a single point.
The Preds only had two power play chances tonight, but were nonetheless unable to capitalize on either. But in true accordance with their theme, the Preds also killed off all four of the Rangers' power plays. The Preds have raised themselves up to 21st place in the league in PK percentage, but have now dropped to 27th in PP percentage.
In Saturday's game against Dallas, the Preds dominated in Corsi ratings. They maintained a higher possession time and were able to outshoot the Stars 38-22. The Preds wound up losing the game 4-1. Tonight, the reverse happened for the Preds. They were outshot by almost double their total but still won by three goals. These anomalies show that if you're not recording enough high-danger scoring chances for yourself, you're not going to score, no matter how often you assault the net.
The Rangers created 16 HDCF (high-danger chances for) tonight and converted just two of them into goals. The Preds, on the other hand, had seven total HDCF tonight and converted on five of them. The ratios might seem backwards, and that's when you have to account for the efficiency of the goalie in net. While Georgiev posted a .864 save percentage tonight, Saros secured the clear advantage with his .951.
The Stars totaled just four HDCF on Saturday, but converted all four of them. The Preds produced eight HDCF but were only able to score on one of them.
Looking at Natural Stat Trick's shot heat map for tonight (above, all situations), the Rangers mostly focused on obtaining their goals from point-blank range, within roughly eight feet of Saros' crease. Though both their goals came from that range, the Rangers' general lack of shot spread likely cost them. The Preds put together a slightly better spread, scoring two from within the offensive zone circles, one from close range, and two empty-netters from the defensive zone- including Josi's ENG from the entire length of the ice.
This four-game road trip has the potential to redirect the Preds' entire season if they remain successful. If they manage to collect all eight points, the Preds could put themselves in a position where they can finally wage a realistic battle for the Central Division. But, again, this game is a just grain of sand at the bottom of the sandcastle the Preds must climb to get out of the trenches.
The Preds head over to Long Island to play the Islanders at 6 P.M. tomorrow.