What do Scott Walker, J.P. Dumont, Patric Hornqvist, and Sergei Kostitsyn have in common?
Answer: They all led the Nashville Predators in scoring in a year where they made the playoffs. You know what else they have in common? They never finished higher than 29th in league scoring in those years.
The Nashville Predators, and more specifically Barry Trotz, have made a habit of making something out of nothing, and they are doing it again this season. They sit in 6th in the Western Conference, have won 9 of their last 11, and they are doing it all with defenseman Shea Weber leading their team in scoring (his 33 points place him 62nd overall in the NHL).
This is not something new, the Preds have never had a player finish higher in scoring than 22nd (Paul Kariya in the 2005-06 season). In fact their leading scorer has averaged just 59 points since the team entered the NHL in 1998-99. Yet they have somehow made the playoffs in 6 of their 12 years of existence. Last year they had 44 wins and went to the second round for the first time in franchise history. Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn lead the team in scoring with 50 points; the average point total for the other 29 team leaders in the NHL was 70. Only Jordan Eberle in Edmonton (43) and Stephen Weiss in Florida (49) lead their teams in scoring with fewer points, oh and did I mention their teams finished last in their respective conferences?
It’s pretty impressive that without that main scoring threat, Barry Trotz still manages to get his team to the dance.
Here is the problem, over the last 7 years they have been bumped in the first round five times, and once in the second round. It’s a great accomplishment making the playoffs without any kind of superstar on your roster, but when is “just getting there” no longer enough? After all, the goal should be to win a Stanley Cup, not get yourself one or two rounds of playoff hockey. As impressive as this team has been in the regular season, the lack of a scoring threat has been evident in the postseason. They have played 40 playoff games and are averaging just over 2 goals per game. They were also shut out in six of them.
Historically, the teams that have won the Cup have had at least one top scorer. Take a look at the last 10 Cup champs: 8 of them had their leading scorer finish at least 13th in NHL scoring that season. There were only two exceptions:
1) 2003 New Jersey Devils: Patrik Elias finished 67th. I almost didn’t want this to count because let’s face it, its New Jersey!
2) 2011 Boston Bruins: Milan Lucic and David Krejci each had 62 points and finished 40th and 47th respectively because of goal differential.
I understand that this team relies on defense, specifically Norris Trophy finalist Shea Weber and Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne, but last time I checked, you need to outscore the other team to win. If this team is ever going to get over that hump, they need someone who can put up some points. Getting into the dance is great, but at some point you want at least a shot of dancing with the Prom Queen.
Let’s head to the Links
Brad Marchand wants to know why Nick Foligno was not suspended for his “similar hit” (Pro Hockey Talk)
If you like crazy goal celebrations, you should probably check this out (Puck Daddy)
Dirty Dangle breaks down the question: Are the Leafs Winter Classic Worthy?
Does Zdeno Charahave Alexei Yashin & Wade Redden to thank for being named All Star captain? (Score Nation)
My wife’s birthday is coming up, and I think I know what I’m going to buy her (Barry Melrose Rocks)
Bruce Boudreau talks about his final days as the Capitals head coach (Washington Post)
Playing on a line with Pavel Datsyuk seems to agree with Todd Bertuzzi (the word “Duh” comes to mind) (Mlive.com)
Please make sure your kids are out of the room before clicking on this picture of Taylor Hall (twitter)
and finally, maybe Datsyuk did this move one too many times