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In Search of Consistency

Grimson Says Rinne and Forsberg Are Key for Needed Consistency

by Stu Grimson @asgrimson / Television Analyst

Consistency: The achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time.

Where your favorite gold-breasted NHL team is concerned, does the following look like a "level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time?"

October: 2-5-1; November: 9-3-2; December: 5-6-3. January: 1-1-1. Agreed. Not nearly.

However, in spite of the ups and downs of the 2016-17 season so far, the picture is not nearly as bleak as some would describe it. The Preds are two points back of the Western Conference playoff cutoff line with two games in hand on the Canucks who hold the eighth spot.

Let's consider this club on paper. Pekka Rinne in net, one of the best defense corps in the industry and a good-sized list of 20-somethings up front who have shown that there is even better hockey yet to come. Still, there's this disconnect between the current record and the expectations for this version of the team arising out of last summer.

The concern that's been circulating through camp is that with a little consistency this team could be - and should be - a handful of wins ahead of its current ranking. No argument here. So let me make a couple quick points to support my reasons for believing that a more consistent brand of hockey is in the cards.

Video: MTL@NSH: Rinne denies Pacioretty's breakaway

Goaltending:

Rinne had a month to remember in November going 9-1-2. However, December was a different story where his wins/losses dipped below .500. The lesson learned over the course of these two months is that it may not be optimal for Rinne - now 34 years of age - to play 12 of 14 games in a single month, as was the case in November.

With Juuse Saros looking stronger each time out, the pressure to run Rinne out there every night is greatly reduced. At the day's end, Rinne appears to be sharper on regular rest as evidenced by his record of 48-26-9 in games following three days off.

Video: NSH@TBL: Forsberg snipes one past Vasilevskiy in 2nd

Filip Forsberg:

Forsberg was one of two bedrock producers last year. He and James Neal notched 33 and 31 goals, respectively. That's a significant contribution. A main objective has to be getting these two guys going consistently. For Neal's part, he's on pace to add to the strong numbers he posted last year, if he can have a healthy second half. Forsberg has been a different story.

He was slow out of the gate - just three goals in his first 30 games. However, just as you thought it couldn't be more bleak - guess who's rattled off six goals in his last nine games? All of a sudden, someone's having a decent season after all. Watch out when the confidence returns to this sniper's game. By extension, the wins should come with more regularity if No. 9 has truly turned the corner.

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