(photo credit: Dinur Blum)
To borrow a Simpsons line, “everything is coming up Milhouse!” for the Nashville Predators at the start of this season. With only the second coach of their 16 year history, Peter “Laffy” Laviolette leading the way, the Preds are 16-6-2 and are currently 1st in the Central. Also, through the first two months of the season, they are averaging more than 31 shots on goal per game which is a far cry from the years of the defensively minded Barry Trotz.
Also helping is the offense by former Penguin James Neal who has (as of Dec 1st); 9 goals, 5 assists and 14 points, including a natural hat trick at home in Bridgestone Arena against one of their major rivals in the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct 23. Mike Fisher was able to play (and get 2 shots on goal) against the Oilers on (American) Thanksgiving after having a ruptured Achilles and missing 21 games, so he will also soon be helping the offense.
The Preds also been getting more national attention; a 2016 All Star Game to be held in Nashville and they are (spoilers) #24 in Forbes NHL Franchise Values. Also, PETA finally realized that their fans have been throwing (sometimes live, sometimes not) catfish on the ice (a la Detroit fans octopus’) for years now. They’ve offered the team 1,000 plastic fish for the fans to throw in place of the live ones.
And the Predators’ Filip Forsberg, lead all rookies with 9 goals (including 3 game-winners), 15 points, 6 assists and a +9 rating in 13 games is the NHL Rookie of the Month for November.
Forsberg, the 20-year-old native of Ostervala, Sweden, was the 11th overall selection by the Washington Capitals in the 2012 NHL Draft who was traded for the Predators Martin Erat & Michael Latta in a lopsided deal that may one day be reference in the same breath as “Zdeno Chara traded from the Islanders” and “Mark Messier traded from the Oilers.”
He also becomes just the fourth active player to record a goal streak of at least 6 games during his rookie season, joining Alex Ovechkin (twice in 2005-06), Evgeni Malkin (2006-07) and the Islanders Michael Grabner (2010-11). He edged out Winnipeg Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson (4-0-2, 1.22 GAA, .958 SV%, 1 SO in 6 GP), Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (2-7—9 in 13 GP), Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (2-9—11 in 13 GP), Ottawa Senators left wing Mike Hoffman (6-2—8 in 14 GP) and Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg (3-5—8 in 10 GP) for the honor of being the NHL’s Rookie of the Month.