The Nashville Predators are currently in third place in the Central Division with 21 points. That puts them in fifth place in the Western Conference, but it’s not because they’re winning lots of hockey games. In fact, they’ve lost three games more than they’ve won this year. Five of their points in the standings have come from losing in overtime or a shootout.
Looking over Nashville’s 11 losses this season, I noticed most of them have come against slumping teams. I discounted the Preds’ shootout loss to open the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets since there was no trend. That left these 10 losses to consider:
- 1/21: St. Louis Blues 4, Nashville 3 (SO) – St. Louis had won its only previous game.
- 1/24: St. Louis Blues 3, Nashville 0 – St. Louis had lost its previous game against Chicago, its first loss of the season.
- 1/26: Anaheim Ducks 3, Nashville 2 (SO) – Anaheim had lost its previous game to Vancouver 5-0, its first loss of the season after two high-flying wins to open the season.
- 1/28: Phoenix Coyotes 4, Nashville 0 – Phoenix had lost its previous two games – 5-3 to San Jose and 4-2 to Los Angeles – and four of its first five games to start the season.
- 2/9: Minnesota Wild 2, Nashville 1 (OT) – Minnesota had lost its previous three games: 3-1 to Anaheim, 2-1 to Phoenix, and 4-1 to Vancouver.
- 2/10: Chicago Blackhawks 3, Nashville 0 – Chicago had won its previous three games.
2/18: Colorado Avalanche 6, Nashville 5 – Colorado lost four of its previous five games: 3-2 to Dallas, 3-0 to Anaheim, 3-2 to Phoenix in overtime, and 6-4 to Edmonton.
- 2/22: Vancouver Canucks 1, Nashville 0 – Vancouver had won its previous game, 4-3 against Dallas, after losing three in a row: 4-3 to Dallas, 4-3 to St. Louis in a shootout, and 4-3 to Chicago in a shootout.
- 2/23: Detroit Red Wings 4, Nashville 0 – Detroit had lost its previous five games: 4-3 to St. Louis in overtime, 5-2 to Anaheim, 3-2 to Minnesota, 4-3 to Nashville in overtime, and 3-2 to Columbus.
I compared this to the eight games they’ve won and found the exact opposite. This season’s Nashville Predators tend to beat teams that have enjoyed recent success:
- 1/22: Nashville 3, Minnesota Wild 1 – Minnesota had won its previous game: a 1-0 shutout against Dallas.
1/31: Nashville 2, Los Angeles Kings 1 (SO) – L.A. had won its previous two games: 4-2 against Phoenix, and 3-2 against Vancouver in a shootout.
- 2/2: Nashville 2, San Jose Sharks 1 (SO) – San Jose had won its first seven games to open the season before losing to Nashville.
- 2/5: Nashville 6, St. Louis Blues 1 – St. Louis had lost its previous game, 5-3 to Detroit, after winning the four games before that.
- 2/7: Nashville 3, Los Angeles Kings 0 – L.A. had won its previous game, 4-2 against Columbus.
- 2/12: Nashville 1, San Jose Sharks 0 (OT) – San Jose had lost its previous five games, beginning with the loss to Nashville on 2/2
- 2/14: Nashville 3, Phoenix Coyotes 0 – Phoenix had won its previous two games: 1-0 against San Jose in a shootout, and 3-2 against Colorado in overtime.
- 2/19: Nashville 4, Detroit Red Wings 3 (OT) – Detroit had lost its previous five games.
This isn’t exact science, but the trend seems clear enough. Nashville plays significantly better hockey against top teams and has a hard time kicking a team while it’s down.
There’s enough talent on the Nashville Predators roster to win hockey games. They’re just not putting everything together on a consistent basis. For whatever reason Nashville seems to have problems getting mean at the right times. There’s still time to turn things around, but the halfway point of the season will be here in five more games and from there it’s all downhill.