We’re just a month into the regular season and the Nashville Predators already have their backs against the wall and in do-or-die mode. With 56 games on the schedule, time is of the essence more than normal.
Just in time to go into this critical stretch of games, the Predators have the Dallas Stars on the schedule next beginning Monday night. A team that embarrassed them in the first meeting to a score of 7-0.
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The second matchup was much more of a defensive grudge match, and the Predators nearly tied it late in that game thanks to holding the Stars to just 22 shots on goal.
Nashville Predators need a reawakening
The Predators need a repeat performance of that second matchup tonight. Holding a team to that few of shots on goal dramatically helps your chances of winning. Especially a team like the Predators that can’t seem to manufacture any sort of offensive firepower.
The Stars have had their fair share of struggles as well since the last time these two teams met. They’re sitting just one spot ahead of the Predators in the division standings, but also have three fewer games played.
A two-game sweep by the Predators would not only come as a huge surprise, but also leap frog the Predators up a spot in the division. The pack separates after that with a four-way tie at 18 points and six points ahead of the Predators.
As much criticism that Johansen has taken for not playing up to the level anywhere close to his contract, he’s still needed badly in this lineup to wake up this offense. It’s non-existent right now, and that means goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros have to be virtually perfect to get a win.
The goaltending hasn’t been stellar, but it’s also not the main root of the problem for the Predators.
We need that chemistry to keep growing
A big factor into tonight’s game will be if the younger players and newer players on this team continue to show development in their chemistry together. It looks like we’re seeing the painful result of players just not accustomed to playing with each other yet.
Players like Nick Cousins, Erik Haula and Luke Kunin just haven’t found their footing yet in Nashville. Haula nearly put up 60 points in 2017-18, but hasn’t been the same productive player since then.
Maybe the only hope of this team is that Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mikael Granlund and some others go into beast mode together and put this team on their collective backs. They’re all talented enough to do that, but fans are tired of waiting to see it actually happen.
Time is running out. Another abysmal week and the Predators will need to start thinking about how to move some key pieces that have trade value and think primarily about the long-term future.
Hockey is a crazy sport, and no one really expected the Predators to get a two-game sweep over the Stars just before the season was paused last season in March. Maybe it can happen again.
Puck drop for tonight in Dallas is scheduled for 7:30 P.M. CDT and you can check out the action on Fox Sports Tennessee and on 102.5 The Game.