A Saturday Night in Smashville did not go according to plan for the Nashville Predators as they lost to the Detroit Red Wings 4-2.
There are plenty of things to criticize, but it’s tough to watch the team get outplayed by the last place 4-10-2 Red Wings in multiple facets of the game.
We’ve discussed before how this rivalry helped to shape the franchise into what it is, especially with some good battles in the history between the two. This was not one of those battles…it was anything but in the forgettable 101st matchup between the two.
Plain and simple, it looked like the Red Wings watched the tape from Thursday night and responded.
The Predators on the other hand, looked more like they took Friday off and showed up to Bridgestone 30 minutes before puck drop.
Hynes and Co. have a lot to answer for after barely squeaking out the 3-2 win on Thursday night, and even more to explain after this 4-2 implosion.
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Pekka Not the Same
There’s a lot to say, and a lot of praise to be delivered, to the Nashville Predators future Hall of Fame goaltender, Pekka Rinne, especially after standing on his head in Thursday night’s matchup.
However, after the standout performance, Rinne was given his first back-to-back appearance since January of 2020, starting between the pipes.
To put it bluntly, he was not seeing the puck well at all. In the first goal, scored by Robby Fabbri, the defense broke down, and Rinne was caught out of position. In the second goal, scored by Erne, the puck literally hit Rinne squarely in the chest, and dribbled in to give the Predators a 2-0 deficit.
The third goal, scored by Luke Glendening with less than 3 minutes left in the second period, was a shoveled shot that bounced off Rinne, between his legs, and into the net.
By the start of the third period, Rinne was pulled for Juuse Saros, but the damage was done. This wasn’t all on Rinne, but he certainly didn’t do himself any favors. It’s tough to see a performance like the one he had tonight, because we’ve seen him be so much better so many times before.
Offense Softer than Charmin
Say what you want about Rinne’s performance, but this night was by no means on his shoulders alone. The Predators’ offense absolutely could not get it going at all.
Through the first period, the team had six (6) shots on goal. Through the second period, just nine (9). They somehow decided to show up, as has become somewhat typical, in the third period to end the night with 23 shots on goal.
Hynes was noted in an interview before the game for saying that the offensive zone time isn’t meaningful if they can’t get high danger shots on net. Apparently, that message was not delivered to the team. They struggled on zone entry, and when they did get into the zone, they were quickly smothered or the Red Wings were able to force a turnover.
Filip Forsberg finally got the offense going thanks to a flukey goal which bounced of Marc Staal and into the net, and it felt like the Predators had a chance to climb back into it, but just couldn’t get it going. Rocco Grimaldi scored a beauty with less than a minute left in the game, but as we all know, there are no moral victories.
Consistency Without Results
There’s a saying that consistency without results is really just the formation of a bad habit. That may have been the case for the Nashville Predators on Saturday night. Much of the frustration with John Hynes rests in his propensity to play mix-and-match with forward line combinations, but in Saturday’s game he did the opposite.
For the first time all season, the lineup in the series did not change. The same lines that played on Thursday started on Saturday.
With the same lines, the team somehow took a step back. They looked less aggressive and more prone to mistakes while showing what felt like a lack of energy. One would think consistency would make the offense more dangerous, but that just wasn’t the case.
On the bright side, young players like Eeli Tolvanen are getting more looks, and you can see the improvement in his game. On the flip side of the (mini) “youth movement), Yakov Trenin had what may have been a rough game as his ice time dipped as the game went on. It will be hard to deal with consistency for any forward combination looking ahead as players begin to get healthy and make their return to the lineup.
Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings was very forgettable, to say the least. Special teams weren’t a back breaker, as the Nashville Predators allowed 0 power play goals on 4 penalties. They didn’t help themselves on special teams either with 2 power plays and no goals from them to show for it.
The offense is woefully underwhelming, and as we are through the first quarter of the season, you have to wonder if or when the Predators will become buyers, sellers, or a little bit of both.
Hynes seems to know what the issues are, and you here the answers one would want to hear in interviews, but it’s one thing to say what we all know, and another thing to actually fix the problems.
Looking ahead, the Nashville Predators will face off against the Dallas Stars for a Reverse Retro night on Monday. We don’t need to remind everyone of how things looked in the Dallas series a couple weeks ago…let’s just hope we can get some revenge in Smashville.