Nashville Predators: Three Players Who Need to Step Up for Game 2

Nashville Predators right wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) is shown during the NHL game between the Nashville Predators (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Nashville Predators right wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) is shown during the NHL game between the Nashville Predators (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Nashville Predators suffered a tough loss in their Stanley Cup Qualifier debut. They’ll need a few players to step up tomorrow to even the series.

The opening game for the Nashville Predators of the highly-anticipated Stanley Cup Qualifiers resulted in a disappointing 4-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday. Now they have to quickly push reset as a back-to-back looms between Games 2 and 3.

While there were some flashes of brilliance and intensity, there were a few key players for the Predators who either struggled or were non-existent throughout the game.

More from Predlines

All of the work put in during the season pause, and the training camp, didn’t translate to the ice for Game 1. Mental and physical mistakes hampered them throughout the game.

Some of the players who struggled to make much of an impact are the same players who also struggled during the up-and-down regular season.

Since this is a short series, the Predators can’t afford to wait until players find their games. They have to find their games now.

These three need to step up in Game 2 for the Predators to make a statement and even the series with the Arizona Coyotes tomorrow.

Matt Duchene

This game wasn’t a good look for Matt Duchene. He was never much of a factor other than spending two minutes in the penalty box and getting a secondary assist on Filip Forsberg’s second goal.

Duchene’s holding call in the first period led to a Coyotes power play goal. This goal is the one that put the Predators at a 3-0 disadvantage. If you take this goal away, we could be talking about a different outcome.

Even with the assist, much more is needed from Duchene. The penalty and the ensuing goal by Arizona took him out of the game early. He never recovered.

As the leader of the second line, Duchene has to be the catalyst for that second line. He’s matched with some dynamic offensive players in Mikael Granlund and Kyle Turris, so being held to one shot on goal and one secondary assist just isn’t going to cut it.

A lot is riding on his shoulders due to his past performance and his massive contract. The Predators’ management gave up quite a bit to get him in Nashville. He needs to step up in these playoffs.

Mikael Granlund

Another player that had no impact on Sunday’s game was Mikael Granlund. He’s a player that everyone was looking to have a significant impact in the playoffs based on his renewed play before the pause.

Granlund and Duchene spent lots of time on different lines together when head coach John Hynes took over in January. While several different players filled that third spot, the Granlund/Duchene combination played very well together.

That duo didn’t have any chemistry in the Game 1 loss. Granlund had just three shots and registered no points. He’s too dynamic of a player to have such little impact offensively.

Granlund is a fast skater that has the potential to score at will. The Predators need him to use his speed and scoring ability to get some shots on goal and make the Coyotes press more on defense.

The Predators badly need Granlund to return to the player he once was with the Minnesota Wild, and even as recently as the second half of this past regular season.

Viktor Arvidsson

During the exhibition game against the Dallas Stars, we witnessed the Viktor Arvidsson of old. He was the fastest skater on the ice. He was everywhere, and his tenacity was awarded with two goals.

On Sunday, that Arvidsson didn’t exist. He was stymied a bit, which can somewhat be expected against such a disciplined defensive team like Arizona is.

Arvidsson’s top line he’s on had several attempts and good looks, but he wasn’t a factor in any of them. He ended up with four shots on goal, but nothing found the net.

He spent over 20 minutes out on the ice, the longest among all forwards. The result of all of that ice time was no goals and no assists. Being on that top line, the team needs more from Arvidsson.

There were good reports about Arvidsson out of training camp, saying he finally looked like himself and had his speed back. The time during the pause helped him to heal from his November injuries fully.

The Predators sorely miss his quickness and toughness on the ice. The reformation of the JoFA line has taken place. Now Arvidsson needs to return to old glory and put pressure on defenses by flipping the ice and generating odd man rushes.

Why Juuse Saros Should Remain the Starter for Game 2. dark. Next

The Predators have little time to make adjustments, which is normal in the postseason. They can’t afford another loss like this against the Coyotes, a team that they should dominate on many levels.

I like to see teams stick together in the long run and build chemistry. The chemistry is just not there for the Predators at the moment after seeing Game 1. If this team doesn’t respond big time in Game 2 then this could be the beginning of a transformation of the roster into next season.