Nashville Predators: Reasons for the Lopsided 6-4 Loss in Winnipeg

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (28) fights Nashville Predators forward Tanner Jeannot (84) during the first period at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (28) fights Nashville Predators forward Tanner Jeannot (84) during the first period at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The final score might indicate that the Nashville Predators finally erupted offensively and were just the victims of shaky goaltending from Juuse Saros, but that actually doesn’t tell the complete story.

Yes, the Predators did find some offense by tallying four goals and scoring the opening goal for the first time since the season-opener. Unfortunately, the Predators were still chasing the Winnipeg Jets for most of the game, and the final score ended up being 6-4.

All six Winnipeg goals got past Saros, so no empty netters to include this time around, although the Predators did empty their net late in the game once again. That’s becoming a regular occurrence.

There was more fighting as Tanner Jeannot got into it with Winnipeg’s Nathan Beaulieu. Jeannot gets the victory after going to this judge’s scorecard, and too bad you don’t get points on the final scoreboard for that because the Predators are proving they’re good at fighting at least.

Let’s go over the critical reasons why the Nashville Predators lost their fourth game of the season that sends them to a record of 1-4-0, and quickly digging themselves a hole in the Central Division.

1. Nashville Predators were chasing the game

It just felt like the Predators were never really comfortable in this game. They got the quick initial goal from Colton Sissons on a perfect set-up from Jeannot to open up the scoring, only to give it right back less than two minutes later.

This became a common theme of the game for the Predators. Whenever the Predators would get a big goal to take back some momentum, the Jets would answer back quickly with a goal of their own.

It happened again in the opening minutes of the third period when

Roman Josi

fired a slap shot into traffic, and luckily it bounced off a Jets player and got past

Connor Hellebuyck

. Somewhat of a fortunate bounce, but not even 30 seconds later the Jets would respond with another pinball style goal:

You can call it bad puck luck all you want, but in the end the Predators have to be in better defensive position to either block that shot or give room for Saros to see that puck. Either way, these quick momentum swing never allowed the Predators to fully get into a groove all night.

2. Top Lines struggle to produce anything

Are we exactly sure that Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen and other key veterans were out there for the Predators? Are we sure that it wasn’t impostures out their pretending to be these players?

In all seriousness, the Predators can’t afford to have their top lines not producing in a game that ended in a 6-4 final score.

With the exception of Josi getting what was a fortunate goal, the top two lines both in the forwards and defensively produced just one point, and that was Fabbro’s assist.

Think about that again; the top two forward lines and top two defensive pairings produced  just two points in a 6-4 loss. Doesn’t take much hard thinking to realize that’s a serious issue.

Forsberg had just two shots on goal, while Johansen managed just one and Alexandre Carrier had zero shots on goal. Duchene did manage four shots on goal in 19 minutes of ice time.

These players have to step up in a big way or this will continue to happen. It can’t all be on the NHL newcomers like Philip Tomasino and Tommy Novak, who by the way are showing incredible chemistry together and were one of the few positives to take away from the game.

Novak now has three assists on the season, all in this game, and Tomasino tallied a power play goal and an assist to bring his season point total to three. Keep these two together on a line and see how much more it can grow into something special.

3. The Jets are just better

Despite their sloppy start, the Jets are still a team I strongly feel can battle with Minnesota and Colorado for the top spot in the division. Once they get their full roster of players back, they’ll be even farther ahead of the Predators in terms of offensive weapons.

Both Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele missed this game due to COVID-19 protocols. Two massive offensive weapons for the Jets lineup, and yet still the Jets largely did what they wanted in this game against a porous Predators defensive response.

Sometimes you just have to call it like it is. The Jets are a vastly better team and have Stanley Cup aspirations, while the outside notion for the Predators is they’ll be lucky to even sniff a wildcard spot. That talent gap showed in this game, unfortunately, even with the Jets missing two key players.

It is frustrating to see Saros deal with bad luck, but also get beat on the initial goal that tied it up at 1-1 quickly after the Sissons goal that gave the Predators the early lead. It was a tough 1-on-1 save to make on Adam Lowry, but one you’d like to see Saros rise to the occasion and make.

Of course it’s not all on Saros, and his ugly stat line doesn’t do him any justice for how it really went. The defense was just horrendous, and we can point to that third pairing once again that featured Ben Harpur and Philippe Myers.

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I can’t explain for the life of me why Nashville Predators Head Coach John Hynes made the defensive switch yet again and reinserted Harpur back into the lineup. He looked lost all game as Jets players willfully skates around him, and I’d like to think that Mark Borowiecki and Matt Benning would’ve done so much better and been in the right position to at least make it harder on the Jets attackers.

A quick turnaround as the Nashville Predators face their first back-to-back of the season with the undefeated Minnesota Wild. Another team with a potent offensive attack and Stanley Cup aspirations. Oh joy.