Nashville Predators In Do-or-Die Mode As They Face New York Rangers

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 2: Dante Fabbro #57 of the Nashville Predators skates against the New York Rangers at Bridgestone Arena on November 2, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 2: Dante Fabbro #57 of the Nashville Predators skates against the New York Rangers at Bridgestone Arena on November 2, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

We’re in desperate need for the Nashville Predators to reel off several wins in a row. Their current playoffs hopes are getting slimmer and slimmer.

I’m not going to sit here and say it’s all over for the Nashville Predators here in mid-December. Obviously they can still turn this thing around, sneak into the playoffs and then anything can happen.

However, the Predators need to at least take three of the next four for me to start feeling even remotely better about this team’s chances. It starts tonight on the road against the New York Rangers. A Rangers team that is playing much better than they were the last time these two faced each other in early November.

The Rangers handed the Predators their first of what would be many losses in November. That was an ugly defensive scum match where the Predators offense had very little rhythm or success. The lone goal was scored by Viktor Arvidsson and the final score ended up being 2-1 in favor of New York.

What we’re up against

This will be the first of a back-to-back against the New York teams. The Predators will stick around to play the Islanders tomorrow night. Another team in the Eastern Conference who is playing very solid hockey as of late.

The Predators have their work cut out for them the next two nights. Starting with the Rangers, their big gun is Artemi Panarin, who is up to 42 points in 32 games this season. That’s good for top-ten in the NHL currently.

Ryan Strome anchors the center position alongside Panarin and Daily Faceoff has them rated as one of the top second lines in the league. Strome has 22 assists this season.

Of course you have the great Henrik Lundqvist as one of New York’s goaltenders. He’s having a tough season by his elite standards, and it may Alexander Georgiev in net for them instead. In 15 games Georgiev has a .923 save percentage.

The Rangers and Predators average nearly the identical amount of goals per game and are top-ten in the NHL. Difference is the Rangers are much more efficient on the power play than the Predators are.

In fact, the Predators are struggling in both penalty killing and power play percentage and they’re both big reasons why they find themselves in the tough situation they’re currently in. They’re outside the top-20 in both categories.

Were expectations too high?

Can the Predators really weather this storm and climb back into it? Well, they do still have plenty of time, but they can’t waste anymore time. They’re going to have to win three out of every four from here on out to really make up ground.

My biggest problem for the Predators is inconsistency. They have horrible defensive lapses within games. Case in point with their most recent loss to the Dallas Stars. A great start in the first period against a really good team came apart at the seams after that. They lost 4-1.

The high preseason expectations for the Predators were justified. You look at this roster, even without Arvidsson in it currently, and you don’t see a team that should be near the bottom of the standings. It’s baffling to understand why they’re not playing better, and many are starting to naturally point at head coach Peter Laviolette.

Mattias Ekholm missed the last game with an illness, so let’s hope he’s back to full strength or can at least suit up. He’s a critical piece to a Predators defense that can’t afford to take any more losses in the lineup.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Predators bounce back and win this one. The Rangers are playing much better and their rebuild project seems to be ahead of schedule, but they’re also a team that goes back and forth. After getting beat so badly on Saturday night, I expect the Predators to come out angry and ready to perform at the highest level.

Puck drop is scheduled for 6 P.M. CDT at Madison Square Garden. The Predators are trying to avoid another long losing streak like they had in November. They’ve now lost two-straight after getting points in seven of eight games.