Power Play: Kyle Turris keeps impressing in Preds’ loss to Panthers
NASHVILLE — Saturday night against the Panthers? Well, you don’t see that very often. In fact, I can’t remember the last time the Predators played a game against Florida on a Saturday night when it wasn’t in the preseason. That being said, the Panthers being led by head coach Joel Quenneville are a different team than the ones we’ve seen in years past.
They’re fast and they know it. They’re not the youngest team, averaging 27 years old, but they’re certainly not the oldest – call them seasoned, if you will. And I fully believe they’re finally turning that proverbial corner.
Nashville was able to claw back from a 2-0 deficit in the third period and force the game to a shootout, but the Panthers just seemingly had the Preds number after around midway through the second period. In fact, it almost felt like Florida goalie Sam Montembeault (I really just wanted to call him Ricardo Montalban all night) would collect his first career NHL shutout, but Roman Josi and Kyle Turris had different plans.
Speaking of Kyle Turris, let’s put this out there: Nashville needs to continue having him collect top-six minutes in a top-six role or ship him to some place where he’ll be able to do just that. With Filip Forsberg missing his second straight game, Turris took the second-line center spot, which pushed forward Matt Duchene off to the wing.
The result? It was easily Nashville’s top line all game long.
Turris, who had averaged under 13 minutes a night prior to Saturday against Florida, has played exceedingly well albeit from a bottom-six role. Against the Panthers, Turris played 14:49 – three seconds shy of his season-high of 14:52 against the Vegas Golden Knights – and had the game-tying goal with 6:30 left in the game, one where he dangled the puck through the legs of a defender then delivered a laser top-shelf on Montembeault.
And he’s done it all with a smile. On the ice, in the locker room, and all of his interviews so far I’ve seen nothing less than a smile from Turris. If you don’t see how Turris can and should be on the top-six every night for the foreseeable future, then I’m not sure what to tell you.
QUOTES FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
“I think it’s just communication is key in those situations. Teams, the way they play defensively, they try to get everyone involved. We do too, we try to get everyone involved. That’s tough to defend. Our thing is do your job and it’s a man-on-man the way we play. Once we get scrambling, it’s just sorting out who’s my man or can we help somebody out. It looks kind of scrambly, but there’s a plan behind it. You don’t want any breakdowns, but if that happens we still have (Rinne) in net. (Against Florida) it was maybe a little soft in our end.”
– Predators defenseman Yannick Weber on defensive zone breakdowns and the strategy that goes in to preventing it
1. Nashville’s powerplay went one-for-four against the Panthers, marking the sixth time in seven games that the team has recorded at least one power-play goal. I think it’s safe to say that the players are buying in to what new assistant coach Dan Lambert is selling them. Now, if they could just get the penalty kill worked out…
2. The Predators are rolling with a 65.4 percent kill rate against penalties. That’s horrible. That’s good for bottom five in the league. I very much like the improvements on the power play, but let’s move a little of that focus to the penalty kill and try to shore that up a tad.
3. Yakov Trenin played his first game in the NHL on Saturday against the Panthers, earning a call-up from the Milwaukee Admirals. He looked solid in his positioning during his first shift, then immediately took an offensive zone penalty a shift or two later. He didn’t necessarily look out of place in his first game, but he still has plenty to work on. Trenin finished the night with no points and two penalty minutes.