In three matchups with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season it’s become painfully clear that the Nashville Predators are a ways away from being a top tier team in the division.
The Predators lost 4-1 to Tampa Bay last night while debuting their Reverse Retro uniforms, which gave us a blast from the past in the mustard yellow and navy blue numerals.
Johansen is on IR due to an upper-body injury and it looks like it could be at least a week until he returns. It’s much better news for Ekholm has he is expecting the birth of a new child.
With those two out of the lineup, and also Luke Kunin missing, the lineup finally had that injection of youth that everyone has been talking about.
Younger players like Mathieu Olivier, Yakov Trenin, Jarred Tinordi, Michael McCarron and Eeli Tolvanen were all in the lineup. For the most part they played well, but on paper the Predators were no match for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
How it unfolded for the Nashville Predators
The game opened up with Olivier dropping the gloves just two minutes into regulation. He got the better of Luke Schenn in this one. Here’s a look at the fight courtesy of Max Herz of 102.5 The Game:
That was pretty much the highlight of the night for the Predators. They were just simply outgunned in this one.
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The Lightning got on the board eventually at over nine minutes into regulation thanks to a sharp angle shot from Anthony Cirelli for his third goal of the season.
You can say Pekka Rinne napped a little bit on this shot, but honestly it was from such an odd place on the ice that had to be perfectly shot. Props to Cirelli for sneaking that one past Rinne.
We went a while without a goal scored after the first one. The problem was the Predators just couldn’t muster up any kind of offense. The Predators had just 12 shots on goal through the first two periods, and they weren’t what you would call high quality.
The Lightning would tally a power play goal at 13-minute mark of the second period to make it 2-0. That two-goal lead felt insurmountable considering how much the Predators were struggling generate offensive pressure.
To the credit of the Predators, they kept battling hard. Their limitations were plain as day, but defensively they put up a valiant effort. Mark Borowiecki really stood out with some critical blocked shots, finishing with five total.
Roman Josi did what he could to set his teammates up for success, but many times the recipient just didn’t know what to do next with the puck. Too many extra passes or not taking the shot when it was available.
Again, credit to the Tampa Bay Lightning for being almost perfect at defending anything the Predators threw at them.
The Predators would eventually crack through with a goal from Dante Fabbro, which is his first of the season and just his seventh goal of his young career.
Tolvanen had a strong shift on the power play unit to help sustain the pressure, an Fabbro was able to slap it home. There just just under nine minutes left in regulation for the Predators to get the tying goal, but two empty net goals made the final score look worse that it actually was.
Predators tailspin continues
Respected effort aside, the Predators continue to plummet in the Central Division. They’re only ahead of the Detroit Red Wings in the standings, who they play later this week.
Unless the Predators have a five-game winning streak in their near future, it’s looking like they could become heavy sellers at the upcoming trade deadline which is later this month.
First the Predators will have to deal with the Lightning one more time on Tuesday night. You have to think that maybe some fortunate luck can bounce their way in their fourth matchup with Tampa Bay on the season.
You can build off this performance from a defensive standpoint, and hope that something starts to click offensively. They really need Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund to lead the way offensively.