Nashville Predators: We Really Kept the Band Together for This?

Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene (95) checks Carolina Hurricanes left wing Warren Foegele (13)Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene (95) checks Carolina Hurricanes left wing Warren Foegele (13)Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

Look, I’m happy to be seeing Nashville Predators playoff hockey. I really am. But this can’t be the way they go out by just getting roughed up by a vastly superior Carolina Hurricanes team that’s largely making the Predators’ core players non-existent.

With the Predators now down in the series 2-0, a lot of what’s happening is what we all feared would happen if they managed to push into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and in return hold off the rebuild. The worry was we’d just see them get thrown around in the first round by a superior team anyway.

But just you wait one minute. Anything can happen once you get in, right?

Is that truly what we’re seeing, or do the Predators still have some fight in them? I definitely think they have fight in them as they’ve done that all season, but the problem here lies with the front office and GM David Poile.

Painful truth about the current state of the Nashville Predators

Poile saw the need to keep this team together for what we like to call “one more run”. Well, we’re witnessing that “one more run”, and it isn’t pretty to watch. It’s actually pretty painful to watch as Juuse Saros keeps putting forth excellent performances only to see very little goal support.

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What do the Predators need to accomplish in this series to feel like not selling at the deadline was worth it? For me, they have to figure out a way to at least push the Hurricanes to the brink of elimination. I need to see something from this team that gives me confidence moving into 2021-22 with this collective group of long-term contract players.

Seeing players like Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi step up in big ways to lift the Predators to a couple wins in this series would give me reason to feel much better about this overall season and restore some confidence for next season.

However, if the top core players continue to give very little impact and the Predators go down in five, or get swept, then this is all going to feel like it was for nothing. I don’t need a playoff participation pat on the back, but you can go ahead and cue the banner jokes.

Rip the band-aid off this offseason

I’m sorry, but simply making the playoffs stopped being good enough back when Barry Trotz was let go in 2014 when the Predators missed the playoffs that year. They let go of a coach that’s still having enormous success post-Predators, and yet the here were are still stuck in mediocrity.

This team keeps going in reverse, and getting trounced by Carolina in this series will be just as bad, if not worse, than the feeling of getting eliminated by Arizona in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers last summer.

It’s feeling like we postponed what already needed to be done, which was finding suitors for the players who’s stocks were rising and rebuilding for the future. Building around the core of the team who you know still has value, and moving away from the long-term contracts that aren’t bringing you much value in return.

In a weird way, it’s going to feel liberating when the Predators finally rip the Band-Aid off and begin to restructure this roster. There’s plenty of up-and-coming talent you can build around, like Alexandre Carrier and Eeli Tolvanen, but you can’t keep trudging along with this same core and expect different results.

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Losing in five or even six games in this series isn’t going to justify delaying the inevitable. Unless they have a major response in Nashville that evens this series and push Carolina to the brink, then I can’t see this being worth it.

It seems as if the Predators are stuck in being a painfully average team that can make the playoffs, but that’s about it. This isn’t a fun place to be in, and hopefully the Predators can give us a massive response back in Nashville for Games 3 and 4. I obviously have my doubts.