Nashville Predators Need Their Top Players to Take Charge in Game 2

Carolina Hurricanes right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37) and Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (4) have word during the third period in game one of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Carolina Hurricanes right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37) and Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (4) have word during the third period in game one of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite playing an overall disastrous game, the Nashville Predators still had the chance to steal Game 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night. They entered the third period tied 2-2, but then the bottom fell out.

I kept waiting for a Roman Josi, Mikael Granlund, Matt Duchene or Ryan Johansen to step up and make a clutch play to reclaim the lead and take Game 1 for the underdogs.

It was a highly-physical game as you would expect in the Stanley Cup Playoffs between two division teams that have already played each other eight times in the regular season. A combined 105 hits were recorded between the two teams.

This is the exact reason why many wanted the Predators to sell at the trade deadline. They just don’t have the roster to be successful in the playoffs, and the higher paid players can’t get this team over the hump. They unfortunately illustrated that last night.

A sloppy Game 1 for the top players on the Nashville Predators

After Filip Forsberg broke open the scoring just past the 12-minute mark of the first period, the Predators and their top players on the roster were kept quiet. The team couldn’t muster up any offensive pressure and just looked like they were treading water until Carolina finally seized control on the scoreboard.

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There’s reason to still have plenty of hope heading into Game 2 thanks to the Predators having the chance to win this game despite not playing very well. You have to expect much better performances from top players on the roster like Ryan Johansen, Mikael Granlund, Calle Jarnkrok, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis.

Forsberg did have the first goal of the game, but he was also mainly kept in check registering just two shots on goal and less than 17 minutes of ice time.

I need to see these players give us a massive response in Game 2 to get the Predators back into playing an intense brand of hockey that can lead to more shots on goal and more support for their goaltender Juuse Saros.

Just check out this horrible defensive play that left Saros out to dry. You’ll see Johansen just lost in front of the net and a pretty routine goal from

Nino Niederreiter


The team can plan for Wednesday’s Game 2 knowing that they can’t repeat that showing again if they want to steal a game in Carolina. They always say that the series doesn’t really start until the road team gets a win.

Duchene had an assist in the game, a very strong Corsi at 72.2, but fans want more out of the highest-paid player on the team. He’s one of several players that have to flip the switch and earn their money in these playoffs. They want to see pucks in the back of the net.

It was the rare off night for Josi. He had trouble making zone entries and making any sort of impact in the offensive side of things. His on-ice Corsi was below a 40, which is just awful. To his credit, the Captain did record five hits and four blocks.

Ellis also struggled to get into the offensive zone to set things up. The entire team just looked lost in transition, just running into the Carolina defensive wall in the neutral zone and quickly giving the puck back.

We know this team can respond to adversity

This cannot repeat in Game 2, or any other game, or the Predators might very well get swept. The Hurricanes didn’t play their best game, either. They are capable of turning up the pressure as well, so the Predators have to be ready to play much better on Wednesday.

Look for much better showings from Josi and Ellis in particular, and hopefully we’ll see the others respond as well to try to get a win in Carolina before coming home to Bridgestone Arena for Games 3 and 4 this weekend.

We expect the lineup to get another shakeup for Game 2, with Eeli Tolvanen being inserted back in at the forefront. I’d love to see Tolvanen back in, but he’s not enough to tilt this series in favor of the Predators. It comes down to the veterans stepping up and earning their big contracts they have.

If the Predators end up getting swept or losing in five games due in large part to the higher paid players not producing, then it will once again show that the trade deadline strategy was wrong and the team should’ve sold off some assets.

Must Read. Final Regular Season Grades for the Nashville Predators. light

This really does feel like the team’s last stand together before things are broken up and the Predators head into a new direction with youth. They can’t keep delaying the inevitable with the same cast of veterans that just aren’t getting it done in postseason pressure situations.

Being in the playoffs is nice and all, but it’s kind of like getting a participation trophy and it’s just not good enough for this franchise that has always made the playoffs. A Stanley Cup is the goal, and this team isn’t going in the right direction if this current cast of top players keep failing to show up in the playoffs.