The premise appears to make little sense: Lose one of the best defensemen in the league and get better defensively as a team.
But that’s exactly what the Predators have done this season.
Despite losing Ryan Suter to free agency over the summer, the Predators are the stingiest team in the NHL through their first 14 games. The Preds have posted back-to-back shutouts, haven’t allowed a goal in the last 137:41 and enter tonight against Anaheim with a goals against average of just 1.64 per game.
“There’s really no replacing a guy like Suter — it would be tough to find one guy to do that,” said Preds defenseman Ryan Ellis, who’s taken over some of Suter’s responsibilities this season.
“He did a lot of things, whether it was penalty kill, power play or five on five. So everyone has had to step up and contribute here and there, trying to do all things he did last year. Everyone has just done a great job of doing it so far.”
The Preds weren’t exactly defensive slackers last season, finishing 10th in the league in goals against average (2.50) and 10th in penalty-killing (83.6 percent) as well.
But Nashville has taken matters to a different level so far this year, having allowed just 26 goals (22 in regulation) in the 14 contests — down from 38 through the same number of games last year.
Predators succeed with team defense
Tennessean | Feb 16