Record: 29-16-3, 61 points Conference Rank: 4th Division Rank: 2nd Top Scorer: JP Dumont (9 goals, 22 assists, 31 points) Top Goalie: Dan Ellis (11 wins, 2.57 GAA) Midseason Grade: A-
Despite all the rumors about the team being bought and moved, the Nashville Predators are in the middle of a great season. Usuall the Preds are at the bottom of the powerhouse Central Division, but this year they trail only the conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks by 9 points. It’s rarely glamorous, and you won’t find any superstars on their roster, but the Predators have one of the more complete teams you’ll find in an NHL where a leading star like Alex Ovechkin can cost upwards of $10 million.
Youngster Patric Hornjqvist is having a breakout season, and leads the team with 19 goals, while Dumont is probably the least known of any player currently leading his team in scoring. Aside from Dumont’s 22 assists, the Preds don’t have a single player with more than 20 goals or assists at the moment, but they have a well balanced attack that involves more than just their top scoring line. David Legwand and Martin Erat are playing very well, while Shea Weber earned himself a nod for the Canadian Olympic team with a monster first half.
Defensively, the Predators are tough to beat. Their goalie tandem is perhaps the most consistent in the league. Ellis has a slightly lower GAA than young Pekka Rinne, but Rinne has reeled of 18 wins in only 31 starts. Neither goalie has lost 10 games yet. Weber and Ryan Suter are the big names on defense but Cody Franson is looking like he could be one of the league’s top defensemen in the next couple of seasons.