It’s only natural to want to panic and run through the streets like your hair is on fire after a loss like the Nashville Predators took last night.
The biggest reason to want to mash the panic button right now if you’re a Nashville Predators fan is the fact that they just got completely ran out of the building by a divisional opponent. A division opponent that was missing two of their top players and their starting goaltender.
However, this ugly 9-4 loss to the Avalanche isn’t the lone outlier. There are a few recent games that have my panic meter gradually rising after it was at the very bottom before the collapse against the Calgary Flames.
We’re also seeing the Predators come out of the gate sluggish and sloppy far too often. Of course this team has the offensive firepower to make comebacks, but they have to stop playing from behind and taking periods off. They’re on a fast track to being ousted in the first round again if they continue these trends.
Is there a silver lining?
There’s still a lot to be excited about with this team. What you’re hoping for is that this team figures out why they’re having these lapses and why they can’t string together a full 60 minutes of disciplined hockey. You look at the roster and you see a team that can beat anyone in the league.
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The silver lining and the reason why the panic meter shouldn’t be exploding right now is that the Predators still have one of the most efficient offenses in the league. An offense that can pile on the goals quickly and cover for a bad defense. The Predators are going to win a lot of games on night’s when their defense isn’t up to par.
You wouldn’t know it by just watching last night’s game, but Pekka Rinne remains one of the best goaltenders in the game. He had an off night, along with the entire team. Rinne isn’t going to let this game creep into the next one and affect his play. It’s his first regulation loss of the season in 11 starts. He’ll be just fine and win a lot of games for the Predators again this season.
There’s some interesting quotes from the Predators official website about how this team is going to react to this most recent loss. We’re about to find out how mentally tough this team really is. They can choose to let this leak over to the next one, or respond in a big way and play the way they’re capable of playing. This one from Matt Duchene stands out most to me:
"“We’re a veteran team in here, and we know how to play the game the right way. Tonight wasn’t it. We’ll bounce back. We’ll have a short memory… It’s probably a good lesson if you’re going to look for a silver lining”"
I’ll hold back most of my panic until after I see how this team responds to this loss. These types of games happen in an 82-game season. The bad teams let one bad loss turn into several bad losses in a row. Hit the reset button and move on.
Where I have my panic meter
On a scale of 1 to 10, my meter is firmly in the middle. That’s the highest it’s been all season. Even after blowing a 4-1 lead to the Calgary Flames, I had zero panic. Since then, the Predators have been up and down. You really never know which Predators team is going to show up.
They completely destroyed a Detroit Red Wings team that was simply outmatched, but the game before that they got outworked by the New York Rangers to take the 2-1 loss. Then they took this drubbing to the Avalanche that makes me grateful that it only counts as one loss in the standings.
My panic meter is right in the middle mainly because the trends they’re showing doesn’t translate well to winning a seven-game series in the playoffs. They’re going to make the playoffs, which isn’t anything get excited about. Obviously my expectations for the Predators far exceeds making the playoffs.
My preseason bar for this team was at least making the Western Conference Finals. They’re not going to even sniff that round of the playoffs with this kind of sloppy play defensively to go along with a 25th-ranked penalty kill. They’re letting teams skate circles around them, and it’s not even coming against great teams.
Yes, I realize I’m making the assumption that they make the playoffs. Even with these ugly trends, their talent alone will get them to the playoffs. If they lose in the first round of the playoffs again, it’ll be time to go another direction from Peter Laviolette at head coach. It’ll mark three-straight seasons that they’ve gone in reverse despite having all of the talent to be one of the best.