Predators' shot at victories minimized by low shot totals

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 9:29pm

It has become a familiar refrain for Ryan Suter in recent seasons.

One-half of the Nashville Predators’ elite defense pairing feels the need to shoot more. In so doing, the thinking goes, he will create more offensive opportunities for his partner, Shea Weber.

“If I do that, it will draw the defenses to me and make them account for me,” he said. “That will open things up for Shea.”

Through the first five games of this season, Suter has done his part.

With 11 shots on goal, including five last Saturday against New Jersey (one short of his career-high) he is third on the team behind only Weber and rookie forward Craig Smith. That’s an average of 2.2 per game, up from the last two seasons when he averaged roughly 1.5.

The results are promising too.

Suter already has two goals, including his first career shorthanded one, which puts him halfway to his total in each of the last two seasons. Plus, Weber’s team-high 17 shots have him on an early pace to challenge Patric Hornqvist’s team record of 275.

Now, about the rest of the team … .

Following Monday’s 3-1 loss at Edmonton, Nashville was next-to-last in the NHL for shots per game at 23.0 and had been outshot in every contest thus far.

Their 12 shots against the Oilers were the fewest since the 2000-01 season and the third lowest total in a game ever. Nashville’s high this season (31, twice) is equal to the second-lowest number by its opponents.

Nashville is the only Western Conference team that has been outshot in every contest.

Other dubious statistics through the first five games of the season (through Monday):

• Nashville is one of two teams that already has lost twice in games it led at the start of the third period. The other is Minnesota, but both of the Wild’s losses in that situation came in overtime or a shootout. Only one of the Predators’ two earned them a point.

• The Predators allowed eight third-period goals, which was at least two more than every other Western Conference team. They gave up six in the first two periods combined.

• The team’s overall plus-minus rating was a minus-3. Only Calgary (minus-4) was worse among Western Conference teams.

• Nashville has six goals scored and nine goals allowed in 5-on-5 play, which coach Barry Trotz considers one of the team’s best areas.