Numbers don’t lie. They simply fail to tell the entire story.
The Nashville Predators did allow 38 shots to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. That was the most by an opposing team in nearly a month.
The impression that the Predators got away with a sub-par defensive effort in their 4-2 victory before a sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena, though, is inaccurate.
“We were wondering if maybe the shot keeper had a happy trigger finger there for them,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “[Coach Barry] Trotz said they had four [scoring chances] after the first period, or something like that.
“I thought we did a good job and Pekka [Rinne] made some big saves when we needed him.”
The simple fact is that the Flyers shoot the puck. A lot.
Saturday’s contest was the sixth in their last seven games in which they got at least 35 pucks on the net. Through 43 games they have averaged 32.3, which ranks fifth in the league.
They got right to it in their first visit to Nashville in nearly two years. They had six shots in the first 4:15 and 15 through the first 20 minutes.
“They throw a lot of pucks at the net, they do a lot of those scrum-type things where they throw pucks and they go there,” Trotz said. “It adds up, but I think the scoring chances … they were pretty even at the end of the game. Everybody counts [scoring chances] different, but I think it was 11-4 in the first period for us.”
The Predators had a three-game stretch in which they allowed — in order — 36 shots to Calgary, 40 to Detroit and 40 to St. Louis yet managed to win all three.
Since then, they have been much more stingy. They outshot seven of their next 11 opponents and allowed more than 30 shots on goal just four times.
Ultimately, Philadelphia finished with an advantage of 13 (38-25), the largest for a Nashville opponent since Dec. 17 against the Blues, who had an edge of 20. The Predators won eight of 12 over that span.
“[The Flyers] shot a lot,” defenseman She Weber said. “I don’t know how many good, quality scoring chances offhand but they did get a lot of shots from the outside. Pekka was good. He swallowed up everything and didn’t really give any rebounds.”
Nashville plays three games over the next four days, all in the metropolitan New York area. The first contest is a Monday matinee against the New York Islanders (noon, Fox Sports-Tennessee).
Of the New York teams, only the Islanders rank in the top half of the league in average shots on goal and they are 15th. The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are 24th and 25th, respectively.
Thus, the shot totals are likely to be a more accurate reflection of the contest than was the case Saturday.
“They had a few chances here and there,” Rinne said. “… Other than that, we kept them outside and even their big guys didn’t really have too many chances.
“We did a really good job defensively.”
Never mind what the numbers say.