Nashville Predators: The Pain Train Rolls on to Tampa Bay

Nashville Predators center Nick Cousins (21) is congratulated by center Rem Pitlick Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators center Nick Cousins (21) is congratulated by center Rem Pitlick Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

The injury-plagued Nashville Predators are amid one of the most extended road trips in franchise history. A win in Dallas and gaining a point against Carolina in an overtime loss are the only bright spots so far in what may turn out to be the final road trip in a Predators jersey for some of these players.

While there were some bright spots in the overtime loss to Carolina, the second game against the Hurricanes was a disaster. You kind of had to see it coming, however.

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With the Predators suffering from injuries and a whole slew of new faces on the roster, they didn’t stand a chance against the Central Division’s top team in the Carolina Hurricanes.

Now with the games against Carolina behind them, the Predators head, once again, to the Sunshine State for two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This will be the Predators’ fifth game against the Lightning this season. The previous four games have resulted in losses for the Predators, the closest being a 4-3 loss in their first meeting of the season.

It’s hard to find confidence in the Predators pulling off the unthinkable and getting a win against another stacked powerhouse in the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This will be a tall order for the Predators, who are lacking any cohesiveness. The Predators’ saving grace remains to be that no matter what, they don’t quit. Combine that with a roster full of young and hungry players, and maybe they can pull off the upset.

There’s a Reason They’re the Champs

Tampa Bay continues to be one of the most dominant teams in the Central Division. With a record of 18-5-2, they’re a team that’s putting themselves in a position to win another Stanley Cup.

The Lightning are led by superstars Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos, with 25 and 24 points, respectively. Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point have 24 points each as well. This team is just stacked with depth and high-level talent.

Tampa Bay also has one of the best goaltenders in the league in Andrei Vasilevskiy, and he’s the easy front runner for the Vezina Trophy.

Vasilevskiy boasts a .936 SV% and 1.79 GAA. It is challenging for any team to get goals past him, and it will be even more challenging for a Predators team that struggles to score against any goaltender.

To add fuel to the fire, Tampa Bay is coming off of a surprising 6-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, who sit in the division’s basement just behind the Predators.

11-15-1 (23 P). 18-5-2 (38 P). 151. Fox Sports TN. Saturday, March 13. 23. NSH +245, TB -295. 6 PM CT

From Bad to Worse for the Nashville Predators

With a large number of players on injured reserve, less-than-stellar goaltending, and troubles finding chemistry as a team, the Predators are in disarray and have more questions than answers.

The trade deadline is fast approaching, and everyone is waiting for the news to start rolling in. After this road trip, expect the changes to start flooding in.

One thing that Head Coach John Hynes needs to do for this game against Tampa is give Pekka Rinne a rest. If Juuse Saros is still unavailable due to injury and with the hopes of making the playoffs all but lost, let’s see what Kasimir Kaskisuo can bring to the table.

Kaskisuo came in for Rinne after the score was 5-0 in favor of Carolina on Thursday. It was the first time a goaltender not named Rinne or Saros appeared in a game for the Predators since December 2016 when Marek Mazanec came in for Rinne.

Hynes needs to find some cohesiveness for his team and fast, especially with the defensive core.

With Dante Fabbro out due to suspension and Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis due to injury, there are many unproven and inexperienced players on the defensive unit.

Alexandre Carrier has been getting more comfortable out there with his offensive game, and Jeremy Davies has also been pretty impressive registering over 18 minutes of ice per game and getting five shots on goal.

The team’s few bright spots continue to be Filip Forsberg and Eeli Tolvanen, although both struggled in the last game against Carolina.

Forsberg still leads the team with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) and is still averaging a point per game. He’s also in the midst of a goal drought with just one goal in his last nine games.

FIlip Forsberg. light. Predators Midseason Grades

The Predators are hurtling towards some sort of rebuild, and we really can’t avoid that at this point. A rebuild that will occur on the ice and may occur within the coaching staff and management.

With the experience the younger players are gaining, some veteran leadership, and some crafty trades, the future looks a little brighter for the Predators.

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