For a team who believed the roster was good enough to win a championship, the Nashville Predators don’t know how to fight for it.
The goal coming into the season: win the Stanley Cup. Of course, every team in the league has the same goal, whether it is realistic or not. But, coming into the season, the Nashville Predators stated their believe the roster was good enough to win a championship. However, expectation and reality are not the same things.
The season started with such promise. The Predators were clearly the best team in the NHL. Nashville was winning on the road and taking care of teams like Winnipeg and Tampa Bay. For nearly two months, there was no doubting the team’s stance on their roster. But, just as quickly as things started, the season changed. First, Pekka Rinne took Kevin Fiala‘s knee to the head. He was out for a couple weeks. Then, Viktor Arvidsson was injured, missing 21 games. Twice. P.K. Subban, Kyle Turris, Filip Forsberg and Colton Sissons. All injured and placed on the IR. That is $26 million in salary not playing, many at the same time.
It is easy to point to these injuries and say the team can’t meet expectations with some many key players missing time. However, since many of them returned, the Nashville Predators have not played well. Except when they played the Washington Capitals. And the Toronto Maple Leafs. There was a chance to end a road trip earning 8 of 12 possible points.
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The trip ended with a poor showing in Carolina. Nashville followed this up with a 7-2 win over Washington, but then fell 5-1 to the Jets.
Not only did they lose to their division rival, but they also failed to show up for over 40 minutes of the game. Sure, they finished with a 52.75% CorsiFor, but allowed more scoring chances and goals at 5v5. Four of those goals were allowed when Dan Hamhuis and Yannick Weber were on the ice. The Predators top line witnessed at least 2 goals as well. Arvidsson was on ice for three.
Where’s the fire
After losing to the Jets, one would think the Predators would come out swinging against their next opponent. That would be the Florida Panther. And we would be wrong. When facing the team with the worst 5v5 stats in the NHL, the Predators played with no fire or energy. Sure, Ryan Johansen was out after being suspended for two games, but that is no excuse.
Forsberg and Arvidsson finished with CorsiFors in the 30s and allowed multiple goals yet again. The team’s third line also finished with lower CorsiFor ratings, but managed to score the team’s only two points. Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, and Roman Josi granted the Panthers access to the high-danger areas.
For a team that wants to win the Stanley Cup, they sure do not play like it most nights. Allowing multiple goals to their opponents during the first period forcing them to play from behind the entire game. Allowing a goal within a minute of scoring on their own. Terrible special teams play. Lapses on defense.
When these things happen, who steps up? Roman Josi is the captain but leads more by example. Ellis may be a bit more vocal but doesn’t seem to speak with intense passion. It is said the coach Peter Laviolette is the one who brings hellfire through words. This cannot be the case on a team. A player needs to step up and inspire their teammates. Doing it through play is one thing, but a leader needs to use words as well to ignite passion on the ice.
Today, the Nashville Predators face division rival Colorado in an afternoon affair. They are still missing Kyle Turris and Ryan Johansen, but Mikko Rantanen may also be out for the Avalanche (though it is unlikely). While the Predators are eight points ahead of the Avs, they are falling behind in the Western Conference. Calgary, San Jose, and Vegas have all surged in the standings and lead the Predators.
The season is far from over and anything can happen. But, unless the Nashville Predators start to show from fire we could be seeing another early exit.