When it comes to offense this season, the NHL’s worst team is the Nashville Predators. They have scored one goal or less in nine of their 22 games, which is more often than they’ve managed at least three goals in a game. They shoot less than any other NHL team, they average exactly 2.0 goals per game through 22 contests, and they have one of the league’s worst power plays.
They’re not just the worst in the league this season, though. They’re flirting with franchise history. If the season were to end today, this year’s squad would set a new all-time Nashville Predators low for offensive production. The current mark is held by the expansion-era 2002-03 team, which averaged 2.23 goals/game for the season.
|NASHVILLE PREDATORS ALL-TIME GOALS PER GAME|
Of course, the season won’t end today. There are still 26 games left, leaving ample time to boost their goal production by a bit. In order to finish the season below the all-time franchise lowest goal-scoring average (2.23), Nashville would have to score 106 goals or less. They currently have 44 goals in 22 games.
Simply to avoid being the worst offense in franchise history, the Preds will need to average 2.42 goals/game. That comes out to roughly an extra goal every other game on top of this season’s standard production. To actually stay competitive and avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in four years, they’ll probably need to average another goal every three games or so beyond that threshold.
If this sounds like a tough spot…well, that’s because it is a tough spot. The Preds have been poor at creating chances this season. Worse, they’ve squandered some of the precious few they’ve had by taking dumb penalties to negate power plays or making extra passes when they should be shooting. The good news is that there are a few obvious spots where even small improvements over the rest of the season could account for those extra goals the team needs to pick up to make a recovery in the standings.
Patric Hornqvist, for instance, is only scoring on 4.0 percent of his shots this season, significantly below his career average. Shea Weber (5.1 percent) is also shooting well below his career average right now. A small uptick in percentage by these guys would go a long way considering they’re the team’s top two shooters by volume. They’re both talented and it’s well within their capabilities to score just a bit more often.
Then there’s the power play. The Preds have had the man advantage 70 times in its first 22 games, ranking 25th in the league. They’ve only converted on 10 of them. Either converting at a higher percentage, or even drawing more penalties but continuing to convert at around 14.3 percent, would do wonders for Nashville’s chances.
Without drastic improvements it’s highly likely the Nashville Predators will end the year with their lowest offensive numbers since they missed the playoffs in 2008-09 with a 2.52 goals/game average. And without at least a small measure of growth in their ability to score goals, they’ll make the kind of franchise history nobody wants their name associated with.