If you haven’t watched the Predators closely this season, you might assume their biggest weakness remains scoring. After all, that’s the way it was last year, and the year before that…and the year before that.
But Nashville’s offense actually ranks ninth in the NHL, averaging 2.8 goals per game. More than Washington. More than San Jose.
In fact, if there’s one thing the Preds need to improve as the playoffs approach, it’s defense. In their past two games, they’ve lost 6-3 to the Oilers and 5-1 to the Penguins. Since the beginning of February, they’ve surrendered three or more goals in 10 of 23 games. They haven’t shut a team out since Jan. 19.
“We’re just not committed enough defensively right now,” said captain Shea Weber Thursday, as per CBSSports.com.
“I think we’re too worried about scoring goals. We need to figure out that our main priority is playing defense. We’re talented enough that we’ll be able to score those, but right now we’re thinking offense first and not defense.”
Pekka Rinne’s numbers have taken a hit in the process. The Vezina-caliber goalie has a .890 save percentage in March, and he’s been yanked in two of his last eight starts.
Predators beat writer Josh Cooper (The Tennessean) wonders if Rinne’s battling fatigue, and he might be on to something. Only Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller has played more games (68) than Rinne (66). And no goalie’s faced more shots (1,972).
Nashville hosts Winnipeg Saturday.
Chicago Blackhawks fans, start your engines!
Yes, according to MotorSportsTalk, the Blackhawks have become the main sponsor of CJ Wilson Racing’s No. 35 car, a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, for the upcoming IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge event at Road America next month.
That’s a sweet ride.
The partnership will officially launch at the United Center on Wednesday, August 3, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m in advance of Saturday’s race. Fans will have the opportunity to get up close to the car, meet the drivers and Blackhawks Ambassador Denis Savard, and have their picture taken.
The race takes place Aug. 6 at Road America in Wisconsin.
Since being selected by the Coyotes at 13th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, Brandon Gormley has had a difficult time breaking into the league on a full-time basis.
On Thursday, the 24-year-old Gormley joined his third NHL team, signing with the New Jersey Devils on a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 at the NHL level, the club announced.
Despite his draft status, Gormley has yet to play a full season in the big league, although this deal could give him an opportunity to end that. For the Devils, the deal adds more depth to the blue line in the organization and for a friendly price.
Last season, Gormley split time between the Colorado Avalanche and its farm team, the San Antonio Rampage. Despite some high expectations about where he could fit on the Avs’ blue line, he was eventually put on waivers in January.
He ended the season with one assist in 26 games with the Avalanche, and hit the open market after Colorado didn’t give him a qualifying offer.
After ongoing contract talks between the Minnesota Wild and restricted free agent defenseman Matt Dumba, the two sides have come to a deal.
The Wild announced Thursday that they had signed Dumba to a two-year deal, worth a total value of $5.1 million.
A breakdown of the new deal:
— In 2016-17: $2.35 million.
— In 2017-18: $2.75 million.
Selected seventh overall by the Wild in 2012, Dumba had his most productive campaign this past season, with 10 goals and 26 points in 81 games.
Known for his offensive skills — he had 20 goals and 57 points with Red Deer in the WHL in his draft year — Dumba also brings a coveted right-shot to the Wild blue line, which features four players with contracts of four or more years of term remaining.
As per General Fanager, the Wild still have $2.168 million in projected cap space, but they have secured all their remaining restricted free agents.
The New York Rangers announced that they’ve re-signed Marek Hrivik to a new contract. The term and financial details of the deal were not released.
Hrivik signed with the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in May 2012. The 24-year-old made his NHL debut in 2015-16 and ended up playing five games for the Rangers. He had one assist and a plus-3 rating during his time in the NHL.
The young forward was an important part of New York’s AHL affiliate in Hartford. Hrivik finished his AHL campaign with 12 goals and 29 assists. He tied for the team lead in assists and finished third in points.
If you go by Hrivik’s tweet, it appears as though he signed a one-year contract:
Now that Hrivik is re-signed, the Rangers have no more free agents of any kind, per General Fanager.