Nashville Predators: Ways to Get Needed Win Over Winnipeg Jets

Feb 23, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Nashville Predators right wing Eeli Tolvanen (28) is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the third period against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 23, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Nashville Predators right wing Eeli Tolvanen (28) is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the third period against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators are looking for a way to get back in the win column after opening the season with a 1-3-0 record on a four-game homestand. They get the slumping Winnipeg Jets tonight for their first road game.

While the opening four games of the 2021-2022 season have not offered much by way of results, what it has provided is the unique opportunity to see the process unfolding of the revitalized brand of Nashville Predators hockey, and there will be no better opportunity to get back in the win column than against a currently depleted Winnipeg Jets lineup.

Now before we say “depleted”, this is still the Winnipeg Jets who boast one of the deepest lineups across the entire NHL both in their forward corps and after their off-season, and with their back end as well with the much-needed additions of Nate Schmidt and Brenden Dillon.

Let’s take a look at the ways to win for the Predators as they head to the “Peg” for this important early-season match-up.

Nashville Predators Defining an Identity within the Division

The confirmed absences of top critical Jets due to COVID-19 protocols, captain Blake Wheeler and first-line center Mark Scheifele, definitely cuts into the top end of the Jets offense, but the Predators remember this rivalry well and know exactly the amount of talent and depth boasted by the home side in this first of three regular season meetings.

While it would be fair to assume the Carolina Hurricanes have simply become a part of the Predator’s division with the sheer amount of times we’ve seen the red and black this past calendar year, they certainly aren’t (thank goodness).

Revitalizing the pre-pandemic rivalry with the Jets that has been must-watch hockey for four of the past five seasons will be just what the Nashville Predators need to get their adrenaline pumping, and help set the tone for many crucial early-season matchups against Central Division foes.

Today marks the first divisional game for the Predators this season, and given the current state of the slow start across most of the division, the Predators have an opportunity to start putting more elements of this retool together and establish their newfound identity as they aim to earn two points in one of the most hostile environments in the NHL.

With fans back in the newly renamed “Canada Life Centre” wanting a win just as bad for their slow starting Jets, this will surely be a physical, fast-paced, meticulous game where it could come down to who scores first.

For the sake of the Predators, let’s hope it’s them. Stick to your gameplan and the type of physical team you want to be.

Strike First, Strike Often

It goes without saying that the offensive struggles have continued into this season for the Nashville Predators. While there has been no shortage of chances generated from all four lines, this team still lacks some finishing ability when it counts.

In order to earn some wins this year, they are going to have to find a way to beat upper-echelon goaltending, and there is no better goaltender to cut your fangs on (see what I did there?) than 2019-2020 Vezina Trophy winner, Connor Hellebuyck.

The Jets are prone to giving up some high danger chances, and for the Predators, it is past time to capitalize on these types of chances. There needs to be a sense of urgency in the high danger areas from anyone who gets an opportunity to bury a biscuit in the back of the 4×6.

Check out the Jets early season struggles on both Expected Goals For and Expected Goals Against per JFresh Hockey:

In the front half of the first back-to-back set of games of the season, it will be important not just for the points in the standings, but the confidence of the team to score more than 1-2 goals in this game as the schedule starts to demand above-average hockey for 60 minutes in order to establish respect and prominence in this deep division.

For having so many guys on this team named “Fil” or “Phil”, the time has come for not just these guys but for everyone to FILL the net. Hopefully, an offensive breakout performance is on the docket today.

No More Empty Net Blues

While this team has established a little bit of a reputation for some dramatic finishes, and comebacks over the past 12-18 months, I for one am sick of being on the wrong side of, “and the Predators net is empty with ____ to go in the game.”

In three of four contests this season, the saving grace is Juuse Saros has helped keep the game close enough to be in this position, but it takes years off the lives of every fan with a vested interest in this hockey team.

Related Story. Three Reasons Rangers Handed Predators Another Loss. light

Boys, do the fanbase a kindness and have the lead with 2+ minutes to go and force the Jets to be in this agony for a change.

Road wins are tough to come by in this league but, should the Predators be successful in grabbing a Win in Winnipeg, it would do a lot for the morale of this group who by in large has been playing good hockey, just gonna need a little bit of great today which is entirely possible with this group, we’ve seen the flashes, now let’s get to full force. Go Preds!