It’s become the same tired song and dance for the Nashville Predators this season. They fall behind by a couple goals, mostly by their own doing, only to give us a reason to stay tuned in because they start the comeback effort.
Frustration is starting to boil over even for veterans like Roman Josi and Matt Duchene. You can see it in their eyes and demeanor that they’re taking these losses to heart while trying to shift the narrative that this team may be “soft”.
We’ve almost become numb to the Predators falling behind early on in games. If they’re not playing the Columbus Blue Jackets, it almost feels like a foregone conclusion that the opposition will score quickly after the opening faceoff.
Early momentum is needed desperately, and then perhaps the team can settle down and execute their gameplan better as opposed to falling behind and having to take many more risks to get back into it.
Play with the lead early
The Predators have the Florida Panthers again today after losing another heartbreaker to them on Thursday to a final score of 5-4. The Panthers were cruising right along and embarrassing the Predators quickly after the opening of the second period, and then the Predators started to find a spark.
It might be exciting for the casual fan who doesn’t have a rooting interested to see the Predators make these comeback attempts, but it’s also crushing to constantly come up short.
Head Coach John Hynes made it pretty clear what the team’s problem has been recently by giving up leads early and starting off in without urgency, per the team’s official website:
"“It’s back-to-back games here where we obviously got down early in the first, and it’s just urgency in our play. it comes to the urgency that you need to be able to play with to establish the game.”"
Those comments are spot on, but the hot seat continues to grow for Hynes and talks of future coaching candidates are swirling, Here’s our short list of possible coaching candidates to consider.
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The Predators are failing to even get a point in their losses by making it to overtime. It’s the main reason why they’re nowhere close to being in the hunt for a playoff spot.
So in today’s afternoon matchup with Florida, their only hope really is to start off fast and play with a lead. This team plays with a different level of fire when they’re ahead. It’s like they play more comfortable and loose.
Despite two-straight losses, I like what I’m seeing from Forsberg’s line alongside Eeli Tolvanen and Mikael Granlund. It’s turned out to be a respectable top line, but they can’t carry this team alone.
Mattias Ekholm has been a man on a mission since returning to the lineup, and you know his trade value is hitting a boiling point.
Even if the Predators fail to strike first, they can’t be falling behind by multiple goals and expect to get a win. The Panthers are a high-powered and balanced team. It’s by no accident or fluke that the Panthers are 14-4-4 on the season and pushing Tampa Bay and Carolina for the division lead.
Tale of the tape
No official starting goaltender has been announced yet, but I’m not opposed to giving Kaskisuo a shot in one of these back-to-backs. In fact, you almost have to. You can’t start Rinne every game until Saros is returns.
You really have to remain hopeful that the Predators can avoid game-changing penalties in this one. The Josi slashing penalty, fair or foul, wiped out Filip Forsberg‘s goal that proved to be the difference-maker in the final score.
Mark Borowiecki also took a clear interference call that led to a Panthers power play goal that also slowed down the comeback attempt.
Ryan Johansen did finally get his first goal of the season to give the Predators one last chance at tying it, while Viktor Arvidsson notched three assists. Maybe this is a new development that can give the Predators a much-needed offensive spark outside of Forsberg’s line.
We’ll have to wait closer to pre-game warmups to see if the projected lineup holds, or if Mathieu Olivier or Yakov Trenin get another starting spot. Personally, I think Olivier should be in the lineup over Erik Haula or Nick Cousins.
The writing is pretty much on the wall at this point and wholesale changes are necessary. However, the team still needs to show fight and get wins, if for nothing else, to add value to their individual stocks when the trades start happening.
Puck drop is 1 P.M. CDT from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Check out the game on Fox Sports Tennessee and 102.5 The Game regionally, and also on NHL Network.