We all get by with a little help from our friends, right?
This fall, the Nashville Predators, P.K. Subban and General Manager David Poile will be putting that theory - courtesy of lyics by The Beatles - to the test.
On Monday afternoon from the atrium of Bridgestone Arena, Subban and Poile acknowledged the club’s philosophical modification on the Preds’ style of attack, one that now more than ever, involves the strength of sheer numbers to create offensive chances. With Nashville’s defense as agile as it is, their GM believes he may have finally constructed the perfect personnel on defense to carry out Head Coach Peter Laviolette’s system; a mode of play which uses defensemen joining - not just the rush - but even offensive zone cycles in order to create scoring opportunities.
“I think the game is like chess or checkers. You have to move together; it’s a five-man unit. You want to go from defense to offense,” Poile said. “I don’t want our defense to pass the pucks to the forwards and say, ‘OK, I’ve done my job.’ I want them to get up with the play and so does coach Laviolette. And so we come at it attacking with four or five men, and that way we are hopefully creating more offense, scoring more goals, but for sure not spending as much time in our own end. If we’re spending more than 50 percent in their end, we’re going to win most of our games.”
Adding Yannick Weber this offseason, as well as one of the best blueliners in the NHL at creating transitional plays in Subban, Poile sees his club ready to play the style of game that has made clubs like the Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning successful in recent years. Subban said Monday he thinks the Preds response to the evolution of the NHL has come at the proper time and should breed success.
“I think the game is definitely trending in that direction. Mobile, puck-moving defensemen are first of all, hard to find. To have four on your D corps, it’s tough. You don’t see that in very many teams in the National Hockey League,” Subban said. “It always seems that Nashville has been able to produce and have great defensemen. I am just happy to be a part of that D corps.
“The way that this team is going to play, it’s going to help us move the puck out of our zone, play solid defensively and be competitive over a long period of time. That’s the goal: to be able to be successful in the playoffs. I think that the way this team has trended over the past few years. Hopefully, I can come in and support that.”
Dynamic, puck-moving ability from the likes of Subban, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis could possibly produce a formidable attack on their own, according to Poile, but add in other skilled pieces at forward with Ryan Johansen or James Neal, and the snow flurries becomes an avalanche.
“We’ve seen the way we want our team to play and the types of players we want,” Poile explained. “Now knowing what you want and then getting it are two different things. We do that by drafting, and we do that through player acquisitions, making trades, and player deletion - getting rid of players that you don’t think fit into your team or the way your team plays.
“I really feel now that our team is trending in the right direction. Our defense is certainly one of the best in the League. Our forwards are becoming better offensively. Johansen, [Filip] Forsberg, and Neal all happened within the last year or so.”
Reshaping the Predators’ roster toward the method of play envisioned by Laviolette and Poile a mere two and a half years ago has required significant changes, with the GM bringing Subban, Johansen, Neal and Forsberg all in via trade. Subban said Monday he’s thrilled to see all the moves that have happened recently, however. If this kind of gusto shows the Predators are going for it all, then he’s all for it.
“There’s no question I’m head-over-heels excited at this opportunity to play here in Nashville. I’m excited about our team, I’m excited about this city, and most importantly, I’m excited about the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup,” Subban said. "That’s what this is all about. Coming here is not a popularity contest, I’m on this team to win and to win a championship, that’s what I’m here to do. I want to do my part, but that’s my goal, to win a Cup.”