Nashville Predators: Statement Game Needed On Sunday

DALLAS, TEXAS - JANUARY 22: Head coach John Hynes of the Nashville Predators at American Airlines Center on January 22, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TEXAS - JANUARY 22: Head coach John Hynes of the Nashville Predators at American Airlines Center on January 22, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

What should have been an excellent showing for the newly defensive-minded Nashville Predators turned into one of their worst losses in team history. Now they must circle the wagons and try to get out of Dallas with two points or at least one.

After suffering a loss in the Winter Classic, the Predators have had the Stars’ number. We can all recall those two back-to-back shutouts last March that featured a possessed Juuse Saros in the net.

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The Predators were even able to shut out the Stars in an exhibition game before the Stanley Cup Qualifiers in Edmonton. The Stars got their revenge on Friday night, beating the Predators 7-0.

The Predators had not been embarrassed this bad since a 0-7 loss against the St. Louis Blues in 2002.

On a night when the Stars were firing on all cylinders, the Predators stats sheet looks like a barren wasteland.

The Predators had played well from behind in their first three games. Unnecessary penalties, including a 5-on-3 at one point, were just too much for them to bear.

The Predators managed to get 34 shots on goal but could not sneak anything past Anton Khudobin, who put on a goaltending clinic.

Now the Predators have a tough test in front of them on Sunday when they face the Stars for the second time in three days.

What Do The Stars Need To Do On Sunday?

In short, not much.

The Stars made a statement in their first game back after a COVID-19 breakout within the team put their season start on hold. They were also without a few star players in Tyler Seguin, Ben Bishop, and Blake Comeau due to injuries.

Dallas Captain Jamie Benn, injured in the second period after a collision with Viktor Arvidsson, didn’t play in the third but was not needed due to the lopsided score. We will have to wait and see if he is available for Sunday’s matchup.

Bolstered by the Predators’ inability to stay out of the penalty box or capitalize on several power-play opportunities, the Stars will look to take advantage of a stunned Predators team that has a lot of adjustments to make.

The Stars, who are on their revenge tour after losing the Stanley Cup, will also look to cash in on their momentum from Friday night’s win. They should continue their defensive pressure and hope that Nashville makes the same mistakes they did on Friday.

Nashville Predators Have Lots Of Work To Do

The Predators held their own in the first period Friday. They played a solid defensive game as they had in their three previous games. Old, bad habits from seasons past raised their ugly heads, and the Predators imploded.

The first thing the Predators need to do is immediately address their power-play situation. They were 0 for 5 against the Stars and are 1 for 16 on the season. I have to think Head Coach John Hynes will be turning up the heat on Assistant Coach Dan Lambert to find a way to correct this glaring issue.

A barrage of ridiculous penalties also hampered the Predators from gaining any momentum. Hynes has to hammer home the idea of playing responsibly. Their penalties led to 16 minutes in the box and allowed the Stars to score on 5 of their 8 power-play opportunities.

Hynes may also have to tweak the lines a little bit for this second contest. While it was necessary to get Mikael Granlund playing and up to speed as quickly as possible, adding him to a lineup that is still searching for its identity may have upset a fragile balance.

Lastly, the Predators need to find ways to finish their plays and, to put it plainly, score goals, especially their star forwards. Had they capitalized on their power-play opportunities and finished on a few of their 34 shot opportunities, the score wouldn’t have been so lopsided, or it may have been different altogether.

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Although it is still early in the season and only one game, it is disappointing to see the Predators perform so poorly after such a good start. Fans can take comfort in the fact that this is not the first blowout loss by a team in this young NHL season.

The Predators need to circle the wagons, make adjustments, and come out on fire against the Stars when they take the ice on Sunday. Hopefully, this game is an outlier, and the Predators can get back on track quickly.