To hear Darryl Sutter explain it, the Nashville Predators are pretty predictable opponents.
“They play the same way over and over,” Sutter told LA Kings Insider following Thursday’s 2-1 win at Bridgestone, “and over and over and over and over and over.”
Sutter’s as straight a shooter as it gets, and this statement — while hilarious — is also accurate. Nashville sticks to its gameplan as tight as anyone in the league, which is all a part of “playing Predator hockey.”
The Preds are convinced success goes hand-in-hand with their preferred style: defensive, responsible, gritty, hard-working and any other adjective used to describe how the average NHL fourth line is supposed to play.
Case in point? The 2012 playoffs, when GM David Poile lamented the fact the club got away from Predator hockey, the low point coming when two notoriously un-Predator guys, Alex Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn, were suspended for late-night carousing.
“Let’s get back to Predator hockey,” Poile said. “Let’s get back to our identity. Let’s play a team game. Let’s be determined on the puck. Let’s be a little bit relentless.
“Let’s make sure we’re taking care of business on both sides of the puck and go from there. That’s plain and simple, that’s what we have to do.”
(For a better sense on how often “Predator hockey” gets used, click here.)
This isn’t to say Predator hockey is a bad thing. Sutter did acknowledge how difficult Nashville can be to play against.
“If they can break two or three guys’ will and force mistakes like they did tonight, and you don’t have the goaltending to match them,” he said, “then they’ll beat you.”