Nashville Predators: Difficult October Schedule Could Derail Season Early

Oct 14, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Philip Tomasino (26) talks in a huddle with Nashville Predators right wing Eeli Tolvanen (28) and Nashville Predators defenseman Philippe Myers (55) during the third period against the Seattle Kraken at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators center Philip Tomasino (26) talks in a huddle with Nashville Predators right wing Eeli Tolvanen (28) and Nashville Predators defenseman Philippe Myers (55) during the third period against the Seattle Kraken at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

The 2021-22 NHL season is fully underway now, and the Nashville Predators already made history, but not in the way you’d like, by suffering defeat to the Seattle Kraken on Thursday.

It’s the first of what should be many wins for the Kraken this season, but for the Nashville Predators, it showed that clearly they have some glaring weaknesses they need to address quickly as the schedule this month really doesn’t get any easier.

The Predators are trying to avoid falling into a deep hole in the standings like they did last season, and although there were some positives to take away from the season-opener, their play has to be much better if they’re going to find success against many of the opponents coming up in October.

Seeing the remaining opponents for the month of October gives me a sense of uneasiness for this young Predators team that’s going to make their fair share of mistakes, and truthfully still trying to build that vital chemistry throughout the lineup.

Up next the Predators will face the Carolina Hurricanes, a team stacked on paper and will bring a much more potent offensive attack than what the Kraken did, and the Kraken still managed three goals and an empty netter in the 4-3 win.

Here’s the remaining October schedule for the Predators, which looks very daunting:

  • 10/16: vs. Carolina
  • 10/19: vs. Los Angeles
  • 10/21: vs. NY Rangers
  • 10/23: @ Winnipeg
  • 10/24: @ Minnesota
  • 10/26: vs. San Jose
  • 10/30:  vs. NY Islanders

I don’t see any matchup on this schedule where the Predators will be favorites, aside from maybe their home tilts with the Kings and Sharks. Even then, the Kings are a much-improved team and you can call that a toss-up.

Every other matchup is against playoff contending teams, with the Hurricanes and Islanders being popular Stanley Cup picks. This is going to really test just where the Predators stand in the Western Conference. Are they as mediocre as the preseason projections suggest they are, or can they notch a few upsets over this portion of the schedule?

The silver-lining in this is they have five of the remaining seven October games at home. The home crowd was definitely electric and loud in the season-opener against Seattle, but if a losing streak plagues this team to open the season then the fans will quickly become restless.

As young and inexperienced as this team is, they really got to find a way to not completely fall into a deep hole in this stretch. It’s going to take some outstanding performances against high quality opponents.

There’s also not any back-to-backs in this stretch, so that should keep the players fresh and give Head Coach John Hynes time to make lineup adjustments as he sees fit. I’m already thinking he needs to address the third pairing and switch some healthy scratches back in, like Mark Borowiecki or Matt Benning.

I’m penciling in three wins for the Predators in the next seven games, which isn’t great, but it will at least keep their head above water and keep them from falling too far behind so early in the season.

Let the Reign of Juuse Saros Begin for Nashville Predators. light. Must Read

Most of us expected this to be a season full of growing pains and letting players develop for the long-term future, but the re-signing of Mattias Ekholm signaled that GM David Poile still wants to remain playoff contending team and not go fully into a “rebuild”.

With that being said, the pressure is still on for this team to reverse the recent fortunes of being nothing more than a first round playoff exit. To do that, they’re going to have to get off to a better start in their season, and it will take some gutsy wins in this month of October to do that.