Nashville Predators: Sobering Thoughts From The Morning After

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 10: Pekka Rinne /

Tuesday’s home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers was a thriller. The Nashville Predators fought for the win, but they made it harder than it had to be.

The Nashville Predators came out like men on a mission during the first period. Tallying a goal and nine shots on Brian Elliot. The second period was less than impressive despite the Predators scoring two goals. Then the third was almost magical, with the Predators roaring back to score two goals on two, five on three opportunities. Although there is a lot to celebrate in this victory, this was a game that never should’ve come down to the final minutes. Some of these mistakes or issues might not be a problem during the regular season. But if they continue, they could haunt the Predators into the post-season.

Emelin Is Looking Out Of Place

Alexei Emelin seemed all over the line-up last night. He played 19 minutes and 30 seconds while paired with P.K. Subban, who played considerably more time. The Flyers offense recognized that Emelin was clearly the weak link and tried to exploit him at every turn. Puck carriers frequently tried to either pass to or charge up Emelin’s side. Though Emelin did a good job of minding the gap and not giving up too many chances.

It’s pretty clear that faster teams are going to have a field day with Emelin, who seemingly plays with lead in his skates. Subban especially looks like the Flash compared to Emelin on most plays. The best/worst example being the Flyers fourth goal where a simple chip play up the boards sprung Travis Konecny for a breakaway. Emelin should’ve read the play better but his lack of speed left him and Subban burned for the goal. He’s certainly a fine third pairing defenseman but the top four is killing him. Hopefully, the rise of Samuel Girard pushes Emelin back.

The Rinne Disappearing Act

I don’t like pinning blame on goaltenders because usually there’s context, but there were some bad goals last night. Goals were also pretty bad on Brian Elliot’s side of things, the last two Predators goals were pretty bad if we’re being honest.

Pekka Rinne is one of the most inconsistent goaltenders, period by period. Sometimes it even comes down to shot by shot. Rinne had a fantastic first period where he stopped three high danger scoring chances and six other normal scoring chances. The second period was a different story, a penalty kill ridden Predators team allowed three goals on five high danger chances and six other normal ones.

My issue with Rinne is that he gets so small in his net sometimes. I’ve never seen a 6’5 goaltender shrink down so much, the worst example was the Flyers’ fifth goal. This topic has been beating into the ground, but Rinne will need to perform consistently for the Nashville Predators to make the playoffs, let alone make a deep run.

It Was Three To Nothing

This was the most infuriating part of the game to watch. People are going to say that this game was one for the ages, but it was miserable defensively. Sloppy play like Tuesday night won’t be acceptable as the season goes on, especially in the playoffs. This game should’ve ended three to nothing, but weak defense and lethargic forwards in their own zone contributed to going down five to three. I’m not saying that the Nashville Predators didn’t deserve to win this game, but if you give up five unanswered goals, you probably won’t win. A tighter defense and taking fewer penalties is definitely a key move going forward.

Moving Forward

Once again, the game last night was fun and there were a lot of positives. But it’s unwise to only focus on the positives while ignoring the bad, that’s how first-round playoff exits happen. My hope going forward is that Sam Girard starts with Roman Josi on Thursday. Not because Mattias Ekholm and Girard were bad, but because that’d give the Predators a good top four. Plus moving Emelin to the third line will solidify them a bit more. I also think that Irwin and Josi are a bad tandem, and that Girard deserves it more.

Next: Pair Of Blown Leads Ends With Predators Victory

Tuesday’s game was incredibly fun but now eyes are on Thursday’s game against the Stars. Let’s hope the Nashville Predators tighten up their defense by then.