The Nashville Predators came into this game following a loss to the Detroit Red Wings: a game that shattered optimism after two straight wins prior. Some optimism may have been renewed today, after the team emerged with a 2-1 home victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t an easy victory, but it was nothing more than doing what they do best that resulted in the win. It also potentially laid a blueprint for the Predators moving forward as the rest of the season progresses.
Here is how they were able to come out on top.
Limiting opportunities for opposition
This is maybe the only game I have watched all year that I was genuinely not worried about the team being under pressure for any part of the game. Besides an early turnover that resulted in a goal against, the Predators did not allow any prime chances the entire afternoon.
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Juuse Saros turned in a good performance himself, and especially made some good stops through traffic late in the contest. But the Predators truly did not need a top tier performance from him with the way their defense played.
They were tremendous on the boards, and the majority of the chances the Jackets got were open looks for Saros, which were easily saves. And honestly, this was how they are going to win the rest of their games.
This Predators team is severely limited offensively, but is more than able to turn in solid performances on the other end of the ice. Their ability to do so is ultimately what won them this game, and if they are somehow able to get a winning streak going soon, this is what they will have to do.
Mattias Ekholm boosting trade value
It has been an eventful month for Ekholm, to say the least. He missed a game earlier in the month due to the birth of his second child, came in the next game, and then missed the next six games due to an injury.
In his return in this game, he reminded everyone why he is still a respected player in the NHL. He scored the only two Predators’ goals today, which was a bittersweet feeling for the fanbase.
Ekholm has been one of the fan favorite players on the team for the past few reasons, and for good reason, due to his two-way ability. He unfortunately looks to be on his way out due to the team’s recent trajectory, but may have risen his value with his performance today.
That is good news for the team, especially considering his value was fairly high to begin with. The trade deadline is still over a month away, but it is never too early for a soon-to-be rebuilding team to be thinking about their soon-to-be trades, and it might be good for the Predators to sell high on Ekholm while they are able to.
Got CBJ’s number
With this win, the Predators have now moved to 4-1-0 on the season against the Blue Jackets. They may technically have a better record of 2-0-0 against the Blackhawks, but it is no doubt that they have found the most success against the Jackets, which is surprising for a team that has struggled so much this year.
Even in the game they lost to them, they fought hard and controlled the pace of play for the majority of the contest.
Who knows why that is, but one thing that we know has been a common theme in their matchups has been limiting chances. Or maybe it is because the Predators play harder against a team that is known to play better than how their team is advertised.
Either way, it is infuriating to us fans that they cannot seem to replicate that game plan in the other games they play. Every game changes as you play different teams, but for a team that regularly beats themselves, it would be nice if they could show up in other contests like they do against the Jackets.
This win was a good one for the Predators, but not one that told us anything else about the team that we did not already know. Ultimately, it did not make any of us feel any better about the team moving forward.
It was yet another example of how inconsistent this team is, and it just so happened that today turned out to be a good performance for the Predators. I am still fully counting on the rebuild happening as soon as or before the season concludes, and what games like these are ultimately good for is boosting individual players’ trade value.
The Predators are right back in action tomorrow, as the face the Blue Jackets again at 2 P.M. CDT on Sunday afternoon from Bridgestone Arena.