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31 in 31

Nashville Predators key statistics

Defense generating offense; Smith adept at scoring first

by Rob Vollman / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Nashville Predators.

 

[Predators 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top Prospects | Fantasy Breakdown]

 

1. Joining the attack

The Nashville Predators led the NHL with 206 points (56 goals, 150 assists) from their defensemen, an NHL high 29.8 percent of their 691 points.

Nashville also ranked first with 203 points from its defensemen in 2015-16 and was tied with the San Jose Sharks for first with 181 in 2016-17.

The Predators were one of three NHL teams to have two defensemen with at least 50 points last season: P.K. Subban with 59 points (16 goals, 43 assists) in 82 games, and Roman Josi with 53 points (14 goals, 39 assists) in 75 games. The Toronto Maple Leafs (Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner, 52 points each) and Minnesota Wild (Ryan Suter, 51; Matt Dumba, 50) were the other two.

Video: P.K. Subban lands at No. 5 on the list

 

2. Striking first

Craig Smith has a knack of tilting the ice in Nashville's favor through his shot-based metrics and by opening the scoring. 

The forward scored the first goal of a game 10 times in 2017-18, which tied for second with Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher behind Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine (11). In the past three seasons combined, 21 of Smith's 58 goals were first goals. Each of the other four players with at least 20 first goals in that time scored more than 100 goals (Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues, 112; Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins, 110; Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, 109; Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks, 107).

In the past three seasons, the Predators lead opponents 3,239-2,557 in 5-on-5 shot attempts with Smith on the ice for an SAT of plus-682 that's fourth among NHL forwards. With Smith, Nashville's share of shot attempts increases from 50.12 to 55.88 percent for a Relative SAT of plus-5.76 that ranks 12th among the 617 forwards to play at least 20 games.

Video: 31 in 31: Nashville Predators 2018-19 season preview

 

3. A long-awaited Vezina

The Predators allowed 204 goals last season, second fewest behind the Los Angeles Kings (202) and down from 220 in 2016-17, which ranked 15th. 

Much of the credit went to Pekka Rinne, who won the Vezina Trophy for the first time after being a finalist in 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2014-15. He also was named a First Team NHL All-Star for the first time. 

At 35, Rinne was the sixth-oldest goalie to play at least 20 games in 2017-18. He improved his save percentage from .914 during the previous five seasons combined, 41st among the 93 goalies who played at least 20 games, to .927 last season, seventh among the 56 goalies to play at least 20.

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