The Nashville Predators began their four game road trip last night in San Jose. After a disappointing performance, Nashville started their trip with a loss.
The Nashville Predators are on one of their west coast road trips and last night they kicked things off in San Jose. The Sharks are a team heating up right now, and Nashville still seems to be searching for their identity. The word to describe Nashville so far this season has been inconsistent, and last night the Predators lived to that name. Pekka Rinne allowed four goals, the most he has given up since October 12th against Dallas.
On the other side of the puck, Nashville was never able to find a rhythm. The scoring chances were there; the Predators just couldn’t capitalize on them. On top of all that, Nashville went shorthanded eight times. In fact, committing penalties is the only thing Nashville has consistently done this season.
The major takeaway from last night’s game is that Nashville needs to stop taking so many penalties. Nashville was on the penalty kill eight separate occasions. While San Jose was only able to take advantage of this once, the Predators spent nearly an entire period of hockey a man down. Nashville might have one of the best penalty kill units in the NHL but when a team is already struggling to score goals, repeatedly being on the penalty kill is not doing your team any favors.
This is serious issue the Predators are facing, and it should not be overlooked. Coming into last night’s game Nashville was second in the NHL in penalty minutes. Over the course of the first 12 games of the season the Predators have only had two games where they committed less than five penalties. The numbers are staggering, and Peter Laviolette needs to do something about it sooner than later.
The Predators mustered only one goal last night. Martin Jones has been playing some really good hockey for San Jose lately, but that does not excuse the Predators inability to score goals. There were no lack of chances either. Viktor Arvidsson missed an open net on a shorthanded chance, and Ryan Johansen missed on a breakaway. The most frustrating aspect of the offense is just all the missed shots. The Predators are able to penetrate the defense, but more times than not whoever has the puck winds up shooting it wide.
Nashville has now gone six straight games without scoring more than two goals. Rinne has been playing fantastic lately, but he cannot win every night when given only one or two goals in support. Scoring has been at a premium for Nashville, and in order to change this some players need to step up their game.
Kevin Fiala and Johansen still have not found the back of the net yet. We know they are going to, and it is only a matter of time, but for now it is extremely frustrating to watch. There is no doubt that the talent is there on offense. It just hasn’t quite all come together yet. As we all know, it is a long season and Nashville will be out of this slump soon, but until then the Predators need to stick to their game plan and not play from behind. Rinne is good enough to lead this team to a win every night, he just needs some help in front of him.
Predators’ Three Stars
#3. Samuel Girard
Last night Samuel Girard continued his high-caliber play on the ice. Despite not registering a point, and finishing with a -2, he was one of the few bright spots. His ability to generate scoring chances is uncanny for someone his age. Nashville was not able to convert any of those chances, but the fact remains that he is producing scoring opportunities. That is a lot more than some of the other defenseman on this team can say. Even though Girard played the fewest minutes of any defender last night he still played well enough to be my third star. For a player who never knows whether he will play or be scratched, he excelled once again.
#2 Roman Josi
The captain for the Nashville Predators scored the only goal for his team last night. Off of an offensive zone face-off Josi was able to deke his way through the opposing defense and backhand one past San Jose’s goaltender. Josi had been hitting on all cylinders to that point so it was nice to see his efforts be rewarded. Josi had the second most time on ice of any Predator and was one of two players to finish the night with a positive +/- score. It is really hard to underestimate how important he is to Nashville right now, and last night’s game is just further proof.
#1 The Fans
West coast road trips are hard enough on the fans as it is. Typically, games start after many Predator’s fans are already asleep or getting ready to go to bed. It takes serious dedication to stay up for a game that doesn’t even start until at least 9 p.m. CT. However, if you stayed up until midnight to watch that performance from last night, then you are definitely Nashville’s #1 star of the night.
There are going to be nights when the team just doesn’t bring their A game, it happens sometimes. It might get difficult to watch at times, but that’s why the fans are the #1 star.