Nashville Predators: Broken Power Play Has to be Fixed in Final Games

Nashville Predators left wing Tanner Jeannot (84) celebrates with teammates after a win against the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators left wing Tanner Jeannot (84) celebrates with teammates after a win against the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The regular season is quickly coming down the final stretch, and the Nashville Predators are trying to limp across the finish line and into another playoff appearance.

Despite all of the success the Predators have had since the middle of March, they’re still in a massive battle with two other teams to get the fourth and final playoff spot.

For the Predators to cap off this final push into the postseason, one major flaw is going to have to be rectified over these last nine games. It’s the power play that’s once again gone to the waste side with Eeli Tolvanen and Filip Forsberg continuing to be sidelined with injuries.

Nashville Predators gradually getting back to full strength

There is some hopeful news that both Tolvanen and Forsberg are getting much closer to returning to action. The Nashville Predators social media account shared Tolvanen waving to camera as he was skating with the team:

Also, Predators GM David Poile shared with the media that Forsberg could possibly return to the lineup next week, which is when the Predators will get a three-day break in the schedule after having a back-to-back matchup with the Florida Panthers:

This is encouraging news for the Predators as the race for the fourth spot is about as tight as it can get. I’m not sure they have enough in the tank to beat out Dallas without getting one, or both, of Forsberg and Tolvanen back most notably to fuel the power play.

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The Predators haven’t scored a power play goal in their last seven games, dating back to Tolvanen played in his last game. In that 3-2 shootout win for the Predators they connected once in four power play attempts to beat the Detroit Red Wings.

Since that game, the Predators have went 0-for-19 on the power play, but incredibly have still managed to go 4-3-0 during that time. But the playoff race is tightening up with the Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks right behind the Predators.

The chances of the Predators not only seizing that fourth playoff spot, but also making things interesting in the first round go up dramatically with Forsberg and Tolvanen back in the lineup.

There hasn’t been any official announcement yet on Tolvanen’s availability for tonight’s game in Chicago against the Blackhawks, but he is considered day-to-day and has a decent chance to start either tonight or in Friday’s game.

A temporary fix for the power play?

This power play that hasn’t scored in two weeks just looks disjointed and has no flow to it. Players running into each other, trouble getting through the neutral zone and the opposition having little to no trouble clearing the puck if the Predators do happen to get into the offensive zone.

There might not be a remedy for this power play until Forsberg and Tolvanen return, but the Predators have to try something new.  The power play personnel needs to be experimented with. It definitely can’t hurt to inject a new player or two to see if something can catch a spark.

The first player that easily comes to mind is Matt Duchene, who just recently returned to the lineup and has the puck handling and skating skills to make a positive impact for the Predators power play. I’d put him in on the second power play unit in the next game to see what changes.

Another player that has absolutely earned their right to move up the lineup and see what happens is Tanner Jeannot. A player that’s quickly becoming a fan-favorite with his aggressive style of play on both ends of the ice.

One thing is pretty clear; the Predators are living on borrowed time if the power play continues to be as putrid as it’s been. Even if they get in, they won’t go far with a power play that’s going seven games without connecting.

However, it’s hockey and things can change rapidly. We know the Predators have it in them to catch fire on the power play once Forsberg and Tolvanen are back in. If these two return just in time for a first-round playoff series, then suddenly the Predators can maybe shock the NHL with a first-round upset.