Nashville Predators: Defense Working in Spite of Itself

Lewis Hughes@lah_8Contributor IIIFebruary 10, 2013

ST PAUL, MN - FEBRUARY 9: Chris Mason #30 of the Nashville Predators blocks a shot by Mikko Koivu #9 of the Minnesota Wild with help from Kevin Klein #8 of the Nashville Predators during the first period of the game on February 9, 2013 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Ryan Suter departing for richer pastures in Minnesota this past offseason and Nashville going into a new season with three of its seven defensemen on the roster having fewer than 140 NHL games worth of experience between them, it was easy to expect a significant drop-off from the stout defenses the Nashville Predators have had in recent years under Barry Trotz.

However, that has not been the case.

As of February 10, the Predators lead the league with a 1.82 goals-against average as well as being above the league average in regards to penalty killing and overall team plus-minus.

And of the seven defensemen who have dressed for the Predators this year, only one (Scott Hannan) has a negative plus-minus. In fact, five of the seven have a positive plus-minus (with Hal Gill possessing a "0" rating). 

This suffocating defensive work has also had a knock on effect with the team's goaltenders, Pekka Rinne and Chris Mason, who both have a GAA lower than two and a save percentage well above .900 partly because of how the Preds defense has effectively limited its opponents' scoring opportunities. 

The team's offensive production from the blue line has decreased significantly without Suter and with Shea Weber's struggles (one assist in 11 games) and the team, like any team during an NHL season, has suffered a few poor defensive games such as the 4-0 loss to Phoenix last month.

But at this time, Trotz has squeezed enough offense out of his defense (Kevin Klein has five points, Ryan Ellis four) and his team to propel them to a record of 5-2-4, good enough for fifth in the Western Conference, a record unattainable without the great play from the team's defensive corps so far this year. 

Related

    Nashville Predators Struggle in Preseason Home Opener Against Tampa Bay Lightning

    Nashville Predators logo
    Nashville Predators

    Nashville Predators Struggle in Preseason Home Opener Against Tampa Bay Lightning

    Alex Daugherty
    via A to Z Sports Nashville

    Nashville Predators: Returning to Bridgestone, the Preds left the goals in Florida.

    Nashville Predators logo
    Nashville Predators

    Nashville Predators: Returning to Bridgestone, the Preds left the goals in Florida.

    Predlines
    via Predlines

    Predators captain Roman Josi has fallen, and he's ready to pick himself up

    Nashville Predators logo
    Nashville Predators

    Predators captain Roman Josi has fallen, and he's ready to pick himself up

    The Tennessean
    via The Tennessean

    Photos: Predators vs. Lightning Pre-Season Home Opener

    Nashville Predators logo
    Nashville Predators

    Photos: Predators vs. Lightning Pre-Season Home Opener

    The Tennessean
    via The Tennessean