Nashville Predators: Changes Needed For Game Two

May 17, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) skates with the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes in game one of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
May 17, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) skates with the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes in game one of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /
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With the season that the Nashville Predators have had, it was exciting when they clinched the fourth playoff spot to make it into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The icing on the cake was that they beat the best team in the Central Division in the Carolina Hurricanes to get in.

The clinching game on May 8 and the subsequent shutout win two nights later were significant accomplishments for the Predators. The loss to the Hurricanes in the first game of the playoffs may have given them a dose of reality.

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After a good start in the 1st period and despite some early penalties, the Predators were able to keep pace with the Hurricanes. Filip Forsberg struck first, taking the puck directly to the net and scoring, but the lead was short-lived.

Teuvo Teravainen scored a minute later, tying the game. Erik Haula matched a goal by Jordan Staal in what would turn out to be a shaky 2nd period for the Predators, making the score 2-2.

At the beginning of the 3rd period, it appeared that the Predators had a chance to pull out the victory. Then the wheels fell off.

The Hurricanes raised their intensity level, and the Predators were unable to match it.

Carolina scored twice in the first half of the 3rd period, and Nashville had no answer. The Predators resorted to desperate plays and were taken off of their game, a game that had given Nashville its identity in the final two months of the season.

An empty-netter by Andrei Svechnikov sealed the deal giving Carolina the 5-2 win. The Predators dropped a game that they were more than capable of winning.

I expect Nashville to make several adjustments for game two. If things don’t change quickly, the Predators will find themselves starting their Summer vacations early.

Power-Play Goals Are Being Left On The Table

The Predators haven’t exactly been a force to be reckoned with on the power-play. The power-play wasn’t good at the beginning of the season but did improve. In Monday’s loss, the power-play was horrendous.

In the three attempts in Monday’s loss, the Predators could barely even get set up for a goal opportunity. Even down to four players, the Hurricanes weren’t at a disadvantage.

The postseason is not the time to be figuring things out, but the Predators have to figure out and fix their power-play and fast.

During the regular season, the Predators’ power-play ranked 23rd in the league. If things don’t change, they won’t fare any better in the postseason.

Star Players For the Nashville Predators Are M.I.A.

Despite some flashes of good playmaking here and there, the higher-profile players were non-existent in Monday’s loss. If certain players cannot step up their games tonight, the Predators have no chance against this strong Carolina team.

Captain Roman Josi had a horrible game and could not get going on either end of the ice. Viktor Arvidsson, Luke Kunin, Calle Jarnkrok, and Mikael Granlund all struggled as well.

Even the “Herd” line consisting of Colton Sissons, Yakov Trenin, and Mathieu Olivier failed to impact the game. Usually, this 4th line sets the tone but was unable to do so in this instance.

These players are the ones that Head Coach John Hynes has counted on during this epic turnaround in the season. They are also the ones that GM David Poile is counting on since he made no roster moves at the trade deadline.

Now is the time for them to deliver.

Bally Sports South and CNBC. 1-0. 7 PM CDT. 109. . 0-1. 151. Wednesday, May 19

Why Change The Lineups?

Social media erupted when the lineup for Monday’s game was announced. It was puzzling to see the first line of Ryan Johansen, Forsberg, and Arvidsson back together again after spending little time together this season.

It was also puzzling to see the 4th line without Tanner Jeannot, who was inexplicably inserted into the 3rd line.

Perhaps most puzzling of all was the fact that Eeli Tolvanen was not in the lineup at all. While he hasn’t played as well as he did before being injured, I would have expected to see him if for nothing else than to help on special teams.

The question is, why would Hynes make any changes to the lineup at all? Even though he did mention that there would be lineup changes, the belief is that he should have gone with the lineups that got the team to the playoffs in the first place.

The Hurricanes are not a team that you can gamble with or give them any advantages. Hynes gambled with the lineup and lost. While there were some bright spots in the loss, the Predators played poorly against a superior team.

And while Hynes did gamble with the lineups in the losing effort, he did not do anything that would warrant his dismissal. Coaches make changes, and Hynes even told us to expect changes in the lineups from game to game.

Fans need to remember that it wasn’t just the players who helped turn around this season. It was also the coaching staff. Hynes has done a good job in implementing his system and helping the team to buy into that system.

In the immortal words of Adam Vingan and Braden Gall on their Gold Standard podcast in regards to the lineup being changed or not, “would it have mattered anyway?”

Would it have made much difference if Tolvanen was in the lineup? Or Rocco Grimaldi? Probably not. Carolina is one of the best teams in the league and showed it in the 3rd period of Monday’s game.

However, you want to give the Predators the best opportunity to win, and the lineup that finished the season and helped clinch the playoffs gives them that opportunity. Hynes needs to go back to that lineup for the game tonight.

Historically, the Predators don’t do well in the playoffs after losing the first game of a series. They have to figure out how to beat the Hurricanes on the road. A loss tonight will put them in a hole that will be hard to get out of. Hopefully, we will see some changes in their tactics for tonight’s game.

The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT with Bally Sports South and CNBC televising the game.  Follow along with us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute game commentary.

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