Nashville Predators Start Fast, Finish Slow in 4th Loss to Lightning

Feb 9, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) blocks the shot of Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 9, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) blocks the shot of Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) during the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Nashville Predators have lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the fourth time in 11 days. To say the team is disappointing would be the understatement of the century, but the question remains of whether it’s just disappointment, or underperformance.

At this point, the Predators look to be what they are, a 5-8 team that can hang with and beat the middle-of-the-road and underachieving teams, but crumbles to the “real” contenders.

As Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them”, and at this point, we have to believe this is what the team is, as frustrating as it may be.

After a “players only” meeting following last night’s loss, the response tonight started strong, but quickly proved futile as the game got further and further out of reach.

Scoring Breakdown

Rocco Grimaldi got the Nashville Predators on the board first with a rocket of a shot, and the team looked like they were buzzing early, however the game got chippy quickly, and the result was a loss of momentum and any sort of rhythm the team tried to establish. From that point on, the Lightning put up 6 unanswered.

Steven Stamkos and Mathieu Joseph both had themselves a night with two goals apiece, and Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat each scored as well.

Three of the Lightning’s six goals came on the power play. While the refs were slightly better in their officiating than they’d been the previous night, the Nashville Predators did themselves no favors on special teams.

More from Predlines

Who are the 2021 Nashville Predators?

Through a month of hockey, we still can’t say with 100% certainty, but we have a pretty good idea at this point.

The Nashville Predators have decent goal tending, many times it falls on breakdowns and having to kill penalties that have lead to goals against.

The defense is…susceptible; they have moments of brilliance and great blocks, and then there’s head-shaking plays that should not be happening.

The offense is absolutely abysmal; it’s about as spicy as white rice, and as interesting as the debate between the differences in eggshell versus white paint.

The team is largely inconsistent, which has led to probably the biggest source of frustration for fans.

You can almost predicate the team on the notion that if Filip Forsberg isn’t scoring, the team isn’t doing much either, and that’s not a good look – it can’t fall on one guy. When opposing teams know all they have to do is take away one players offense to limit the entire team, it doesn’t make it a challenge.

On top of that, shot selection is awful – most times the goalies are so aware the Nashville Predators are shooting against them that they could take a selfie while making the save.

Hampering the “Youth Movement”

Hynes made another…interesting…roster decision ahead of tonight’s game. Sean Malone got his first start, and produced in an assist in the only goal scored by the Predators, and that was good to see. However, after a strong showing, and some good consistency that the rest of the team needs to emulate, Eeli Tolvanen was sent back to the taxi squad and scratched from the lineup.

In a power play that is SEVERELY lacking, missing a guy like Tolvanen, who was a spark the power play desperately needed just 24 hours ago, makes absolutely no sense.

On top of that, the youth aren’t getting consistency in their play due to line combinations or scratches, and it can’t be helping their lineup. Whether we like it or not, the “Youth Movement” won’t find success if they don’t get consistency and experience.

Must Read. Nashville Predators: Four Players Who Could Be Traded. light

Other Takeaways

The Nashville Predators have played one of the toughest schedules in the NHL thus far. It isn’t easy being in a division against the two teams who competed just last year for a Stanley Cup.

Still, as a fanbase, you would hope they would be more competitive than they have looked. Part of the question we asked earlier about underperformance or just disappointment, falls on David Poile; as assembled, this team just doesn’t have “it”.

When looking at who was missing tonight, there were quite a lot of familiar names. Ryan Johansen is week to week with an undisclosed injury, and Nick Cousins, Jarred Tinordi, and Erik Haula were healthy scratches.

Recently-returned father to a newborn, Mattias Ekholm, didn’t see the ice again in the third period, leading to speculation of a sustained injury. Expect Tinordi to likely fill in if he has to miss any amount of time.

One of John Hynes biggest gripes is constant tinkering of the forward lines, and it has been made abundantly clear that a tiger doesn’t change their stripes, especially with tonight’s lineup being another mix and match.

Not only was Tolvanen absent, but Matt Duchene played on the wing tonight instead of playing center.

There are schools of thought that may argue Hynes is still trying to find the best combinations, especially with a shortened training camp, but at nearly 25 percent of the season completed, that excuse is getting less believable or forgivable. It’s hard to imagine any kind of offensive consistency with as many changes have been made up and down the line up.

Thank U, Next

Can we ban the term “lack of execution” from future press coferences? If that isn’t the most obvious and overused statement, especially when you look at the scoreboard, I’m not sure what is. In the words of Toby Keith, it’s time for “a little less talk, and a lot more action.”

The Nashville Predators get Wednesday off before Thursday and Saturday matchups against the Detroit Red Wings at Bridgestone Arena.

Hopefully they can generate some offense, but the Red Wings have shown that as bad as they are, they can still make things interesting. The rivalry is about to get reignited; let’s hope it’s the shot in the arm the team desperately needs.