Just when you think the Nashville Predators have turned a corner and going to sneak back into the playoffs, they give us a stinker like this.
Time is running out for the Nashville Predators, and those games in hand are starting to mean less and less. This latest ugly loss for the Predators comes at the hands of one of the worst teams in the Western Conference, the Anaheim Ducks.
Losses are going to happen. The previous loss to the Edmonton Oilers I came out of it feeling like they played a decent game but got beat by a team that just played better. This 4-2 loss to Anaheim was just embarrassing and infuriating to watch.
There seems to be no accountability with this team and its top players, with the exception of Roman Josi and the players that have been called up from Milwaukee throughout the season. You know you have problems if your team is relying on AHL players to keep you afloat.
What went wrong?
The game opened up with very little flow or rhythm for either team. A lot of stoppages and not a lot of offense. However, things would eventually open up and the Ducks would start taking advantage of opportunities.
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The Ducks would go up 2-0 a little over 12 minutes into the game, with shaky defense and questionable goaltending plaguing the Predators yet again. A common them of the entire season.
There just wasn’t any fire tonight, and no desperation from a team that’s in a desperate spot. You can expect letdown games from teams that are in solid spots in the standings, but not teams like the Predators are clearly have very little room for error from here on out.
Viktor Arvidsson would quickly get one back to make it 2-1, and there would be some response from them to keep close for a little bit. The problem was they just didn’t test John Gibson enough. Many of his saves were pretty ordinary, and when the Predators did get their rare scoring chances Gibson was their to make the save.
We can’t say the same thing about Juuse Saros. He made some very strong saves, but not enough of them to keep the Predators within striking distance. This doesn’t completely fall on his shoulders, but he wasn’t particularly locked in either.
Where do we go from here?
We’ll keep saying this until their officially elimination that the Predators deficit isn’t insurmountable. They’re six points behind the Oilers now for that final wildcard spot. Doesn’t seem like that much. But the big problem is they’re surrounded by four other teams also in the hunt for that spot.
With the way this Predators team is so unpredictable and can’t rely on their special teams anymore, I’m not sure they have what it takes to be one of the four or five teams fighting for this last playoff spot.
The top six isn’t living up to expectations, either. As I mentioned earlier, this team has a big problem that they’re relying on guys like Colin Blackwell and Yakov Trenin to produce for them. And that’s no knock on those two guys because they have been outstanding for this team.
Without Blackwell and Trenin, I’m not so sure the Predators aren’t sitting in last place as we speak right now. That’s how bleak it’s been when I look at the top players of this team doing a disappearing act on a regular basis.
I’m calling out players like Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen, Mikael Granlund, Calle Jarnkrok and even Arvidsson. Even though Arvidsson scored last night, he’s not been his same self as of late. You need these guys taking control of games and beating inferior teams like the Ducks, but they’re not doing that.
How does a talented player like Duchene only manage one shot on goal despite nearly 19 minutes of ice time? Simply not going to get it done, and it may have been Duchene’s worst game as a member of the Predators.
All of the people that kept referencing the Blues run last season for why we should keep faith in the Predators now have nothing to stand on. That’s all they wanted to throw at me in November and December. Well that narrative has now run dry.
For the Predators to turn this thing around and meet preseason expectations, they’re going to need a more dramatic turnaround than the Blues had last season. This team is in terrible disarray, and it might take a big roster shakeup before the trade deadline to fix things for the long-term.