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Mully's Musings: Preds CMA Road Trip Recap

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
The Preds arrived home early this morning after last night's game at Anaheim; spent the night flying home from California. So without any practice today, let’s take a look back at what the team accomplished while away from home.

The Nashville Predators concluded a successful five-game road trip on Wednesday, finishing 3-1-1 and putting itself in position to rack up more points at home. The Predators begin a five-game home stand Saturday when they host Montreal at 6 p.m. CT. It will be the 1000th game in Predators history.

Here’s what worked well for Nashville during the past five road games…

Nice line: The trip began with David Legwand centering Patric Hornqvist and Colin Wilson, and it was hitting on all cylinders. When Legwand was injured early at L.A. on Tuesday, adjustments were made. Then came Wednesday’s game at Anaheim, when rookie Craig Smith filled in at Legwand’s spot. No one missed a beat. Smith scored two goals in the game, Wilson had a goal and an assist, and Hornqvist played at his typical high level. It is clear Smith, Wilson and Hornqvist enjoy being on the same line, and their communication on the ice has been just as impressive as their stats.

A rotation equation: Defenseman Kevin Klein was injured while blocking a shot on Nov. 3 against Phoenix and missed the following two games. Nashville was able to go 1-1-0 without him. When Klein returned to game action on Wednesday, the defensive unit looked more comfortable overall. The Predators were forced to mix and match their defensive pairings during the short stretch (even splitting up the dynamic Suter/Weber pairing for stretches of time), but the positive is that the coaching staff now knows who fits well with whom. The depth chart on defense seems to be taking more shape.

Special teams: Different areas of special teams have been Nashville’s strengths and weaknesses in recent years. On this last road trip, there was little to complain about. The Predators scored four special teams goals and allowed only two. The penalty kill went 23 for 25 (92.0%) and added a shorthanded goal. The power play went 3 for 17 (17.6%), with one forcing overtime. But it’s not all rosy. Nashville has been shorthanded 66 times through the first 15 games, fifth most in the NHL. Last year, the Preds were shorthanded the sixth fewest times. And the year before, Nashville was shorthanded the second fewest times.

F Patric Hornqvist: 5 goals, 4 assists in 5 games. Led the NHL in goals and points over the 10-day stretch.

F Craig Smith: 4 goals, 2 assists in 5 games. Was moved all over the place, but it never bothered him. Leads all rookies in goals and points this season.

F David Legwand: 3 goals, 2 assists in four games.

Note: G Pekka Rinne performed exceptionally well in his four starts, going 3-0-1 with a 2.45 GAA and .929 save percentage. He made 131 saves in his last four games, several worthy of post-season highlight reel inclusion.

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