Nashville Predators: Current trend alarming but team seems content

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The recent play of the Nashville Predators brings big questions. Should we be concerned about this trend or is it just a phase?

I don’t know about all of you, but the way the Nashville Predators have played of late is a trend I don’t like. By the looks of your rantings on Twitter, I know many of you agree. The team takes the ice and appears to play the game, but without urgency or aggressiveness. They may take a lead, but in their last six games, comebacks were the order of the day. It took “turning on the switch” for the last ten minutes against the St. Louis Blues to come back and eventually win.

Question: Why do they take the ice without turning on the switch in the first place?

When I played sports or performed music, if I came out of the gate just going through the motions, the show was over quick and options to do it again fewer. But this team does not come out on the ice with a sense of owning the game. With this talent, the Predators should be dominating teams regularly, not waiting until the last ten minutes to take over.

Should we be concerned?

In a word, yes. Sure the Predators sit atop the Central Division, tied with the Winnipeg Jets. St. Louis and Dallas trail by five points. But, this late of urgency when they take the ice allows a team to play the game they want against the Predators. It worked for Calgary. And almost worked for the Blues. And, it also worked for teams like the Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa Senators.

Numbers do not tell the whole story either. If you just look at spreadsheets, the Nashville Predators win most CorsiFor or FenwickFor ratings, get more offensive zone starts, and win faceoffs. High-danger opportunities go back and forth, but the Predators often take advantage of these chances to a higher degree.

Yet, if you watch the game, there is no sense of energy or excitement in the Predators’ play. Especially in the second period. Even more so on the power play.

Another question: When will Peter Laviolette change this laissez-faire attitude on the power play? How many more times will we witness this vanilla drop-pass to a trailing Predators who then attempts to get through eight people with sticks lined-up across an 85-foot space in the rink? In seven power-play opportunities against the Calgary Flames, the Predators notched four total shots. Four. Quattro. Quatre. Cuatro. And those shots came from the blue line to the tops of the circles. No where close to the net.

Lately, it has been unsung heroes leading the change. Austin Watson has played great hockey, earning two goals in the win against the Blues. Calle Jarnkrok is finding ways to get in front of the net and score. Even Yannick Weber shows up in the box score. Getting contributions from the roster’s depth is great, but the front lines need to break through as well. Craig Smith is without a goal in seven games. Kyle Turris has one point all month, and four points since the start of 2018.

What is the answer?

I don’t know. But things have to change. There is no magic fairy dust to make this team play. Not even in the form of Mike Fisher. No, I am not against his acquisition, but his return does not change the demeanor on the ice for the rest of the team. Sure, he can help provide leadership and physical play, but the 23 men on the roster can play great hockey. We have seen it happen this year.

Is there too much pressure on this team to win? Or are they just waiting for the right time to flip the switch? Either way, something needs to change. With 26 games remaining, the Nashville Predators face tough opponents. This includes three matches with the Jets, two with the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wilds, and one with Toronto, Tampa, Washington, Columbus, St. Louis, Dallas, and New Jersey.

Next: 5 Thoughts For Friday, February 16th

The Predators are good enough to win the Central Division. They could even take the Western Conference during the regular season. But, if they don’t change their ways on the ice, we could be looking at third place in the Division and an early exit from the playoffs.