In a bid to keep their winning streak alive, the Nashville Predators came out flat against the Florida Panthers and failed to generate any offense. Their effort to try to gain some ground in the Central Division standings takes yet another hit.
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In a rare move, Predators Head Coach John Hynes stuck with the same lines as the last game against Florida. The Predators struggled to find their game and couldn’t find the back of the net.
Saros Stood On His Head
Any loss is tough, but this one stings a little more. Since returning from his injury, goaltender Juuse Saros has played his best hockey of the season so far, and with this loss, his performance was wasted.
Had Saros not performed the way he did today, the score would have been very lopsided.
Saros made 47 saves against the Panthers, tying his career-high. The Panthers had several high-danger shots, including some breakaways that Saros turned away.
The Predators are going to continue to need performances like this from Saros down the stretch. He will also need to continue playing this way once the Predators start to rebuild and if he is to be the undisputed starter next season.
Nashville Predators Struggle Offensively
The lack of offense that has plagued the Predators all season showed up again in a big way. At the end of the first period, they had only seven shots on goal and managed just 21 for the entire game.
The Predators struggled all game with moving the puck. The Panthers handcuffed them in the neutral zone and never gave them a chance to set up their offense.
Halfway through the second period Aleksander Barkov managed to sneak the puck in the net when Yakov Trenin collided with Saros, putting the Panthers up 1-0.
The Predators also wasted three power-play opportunities that could have helped them even the score. At one point in the Predators’ last power-play, the Panthers managed to keep the puck away from them for most of the two minutes.
Even as time ran down and the game neared completion, the Predators were still unable to muster any offense. With Saros out of the net, Anthony Duclair scored an empty-netter with 11 seconds left to seal the game, giving Panthers’ goaltender Chris Driedger his second career shutout.
When the Predators appear to make some headway, they phone in a performance as they did against Florida. With the trade deadline drawing ever closer, it is apparent that the Predators will need to be sellers.
The Predators do have a chance to make it out of this road trip with a winning record when they face the Dallas Stars on Sunday evening. All things considered, this road trip should be viewed as a success.
However, management should not let any success that the Predators may have for the rest of the season cloud their judgment and stop them from rebuilding this team and possibly replacing Hynes and GM David Poile.
This season is all but finished for the Predators, evidenced by their poor performance against Florida and their lack of consistency. It would take a Herculean effort to make the playoffs, and even if they did, an early exit would more than likely be the result.
The best thing we as fans can do at this point is to continue to root for the Predators, enjoy the wins when they come, and look forward to a brighter future when the rebuild takes place.