If you haven’t been following the NHL all season and were asked to guess which team has the best record in the league, which team would you guess? The Detroit Red Wings? The Chicago Blackhawks? The Pittsburgh Penguins?
Well, you’d be wrong on all three.
The correct answer? That would be the Nashville Predators (39-12-6), who beat San Jose, 5-1, on Tuesday to win their sixth straight game. Nashville is now 25-3-1 at home.
“We’re playing really well right now,” Nashville defenseman Seth Jones said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “We’re hot. We’ve been hot all year. We have a lot of chemistry between our line and our players, and I think that really helps when we get on the ice. We’re able to mismatch lines and we’re able to play everyone. We got a lot of depth. So it’s been a fantastic year, and it helps just a tad when you have Pekka (Rinne) in net.”
Rinne, 32, was otherworldly Tuesday, saving 42 of 43 shots (97.7 percent).
“He’s missed when he’s not playing,” Jones said. “Carter Hutton did a great job when he was gone, winning games for us as well. But it seems like every time you make a mistake when (Rinne is) behind you, he’s always got your back and he’s making that third, fourth, even fifth save sometimes in a row. He’s so athletic in the net. We just have a lot of confidence in him.”
The Predators also have a lot of confidence in defenseman Shea Weber, who has 14 goals and 28 assists this season.
“He’s done a lot for me,” said Jones, who has six goals and 15 assists of his own. “Last year, playing with him was obviously a treat when (Roman) Josi got hurt at the beginning of the season. But it’s nice just watching him every night. He’s such an amazing player. It seems like he never makes mistakes. I just wish I had the shot that he had. That would be nice.
“But he’s been fantastic,” Jones continued. “Even off the ice, he’s been nothing but awesome. It seems like with every game that he plays and I play, it’s more experience for me and it seems like I’m making smarter plays and just trying to get rid of the puck quicker.”
Weber and Josi are third and fourth, respectively, on the team in points, while Filip Forsberg (50) and Mike Ribeiro (48) are first and second. Forsberg has 19 goals and 31 assists, while Ribeiro has 11 goals and 37 assists. James Neal, meanwhile, leads the team with 20 goals.
The Predators really seem to have the perfect mix of players and chemistry.
“We do,” Jones said. “Our forwards have been fantastic. I like that one-two punch of (Neal and Ribeiro). They play well together. They played back in Dallas a while ago together. It works now still. We moved the lines a little bit. We have that young line with (Calle) Jarnkrok, Forsberg and (Taylor) Beck now. They seem to fly around and just make (things tough for the) other team’s defense. They’re all young, they can all skate and they can all make plays.
“We’re looking good right now,” Jones continued. “I like how the lines look and how everyone’s playing. Everyone’s playing hard every night. It pays off.”