Nashville Predators: Keys to Avoiding Defeat to Lowly Arizona Coyotes

Nashville Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier (45) is helped off the ice by defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) and center Mikael Granlund (64) during the second period against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier (45) is helped off the ice by defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) and center Mikael Granlund (64) during the second period against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

After a highly successful six-game road trip, the Nashville Predators now return home to face the worst team in the NHL, the Arizona Coyotes.

The Coyotes have such a depleted roster and are so bad that they have a realistic chance to finish among the worst teams in NHL history, including the 1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers (14-57-7-4, 39 points). The front office for the Coyotes has totally destroyed this team and it’s going to be a long climb back up.

With that being said, in no way does that mean for sure victory tonight for the surging Nashville Predators. Quite frankly, this is the type of game that the Predators tend to sleepwalk through, much like they did against another bad team, the Chicago Blackhawks just six days ago.

If you want to be taken seriously, the Predators need to soundly beat the Arizona Coyotes and claim what should be a relatively easy two points in the standing to push their record to 8-1-1 over their last 10 games.

Here’s your top three keys to victory tonight for the Nashville Predators against the Arizona Coyotes.

1. Treat the Coyotes like they’re the Oilers

Yes, you read that right. The Predators need to come in treating the Coyotes like they’re the best team in the league with the world’s best players on the other side. It’s a cliché as old as the dawn of time, but it’s absolutely true tonight.

As bad as the Coyotes are, they’re still an NHL team with players who are sick of losing and will do what they can to change the losing narrative.

The Coyotes are coming in on the back end of a back-to-back as they narrowly lost 2-1 to the Blackhawks on Friday night. Hey, I know another team that lost 2-1 to the Blackhawks and they’re lining up on the other side.

My point is, the gap isn’t as wide as you’d like to think it is between the Predators and Coyotes if for some reason the Predators decide to come in flat and unprepared. The Predators didn’t play their best game last week against the Blackhawks and Juuse Saros saved them quite literally by salvaging a point.

Play a clean game and the talent gap on both rosters will take affect, and the Predators should be able to cruise to a relatively easy victory. Of course that’s never a given in this league.

Let’s not let that happen tonight. If the Predators come in aggressive offensively and jump on the Coyotes early, then it might end up being an easy night. However, don’t give them a reason to play with confidence or it might end up being a major setback.

2. Be aggressive on the offensive attack

This isn’t the game to be conservative in your offensive attack. The Coyotes have been shredded all season defensively to the tune of giving up the most goals in the NHL at four goals per game.

The Predators are really starting to find their way offensively with Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund generating scoring chances left and right, while the youth of the lineup is still producing as well with Tanner Jeannot, Yakov Trenin and Philip Tomasino.

You can’t start this game off timid and let the Coyotes sneak a goal in past you that forces you to play from behind. The Predators are vastly superior in talent on the roster that they should be able to quickly score a couple goals and make an easy night for Saros.

Furthermore, the Predators have surged to having a top-5 power play while the Coyotes commit the most penalty minutes per game in the NHL at nearly 14 minutes. Simply put, be aggressive and you’ll draw penalties at the worst and get that red hot power play out there.

3. Avoid sloppy giveaways that can doom Saros

The only way I see the Coyotes hanging in this game, and even pulling off the upset, is if the Predators are their own worst enemy. We’ve seen this in the past where the Predators start the game off sloppy and hang Saros out to dry.

Also in the past failures of the Predators we’ve seen a team that let’s things snowball after one bad goal given up. If the hot scoring trend continues from the last nine games, then one goal isn’t going to sink the Predators tonight.

Duchene spoke about the team’s change in confidence and how they’re having fun again following the win over the Blues on Thursday, which can serve you well in terms of team chemistry and accurate passing in transition.

” And this year it’s a different vibe. We’re just having a ton of fun, and you can see nothing bothers us, and that’s pretty dangerous to have that vibe in the locker room”-Matt Duchene on team chemistry and positive mindset, per the team’s official website

Over their last nine games where they’ve went 7-1-1, the Predators have really cleaned up their transition game and passing. The chemistry has looked as strong as ever since John Hynes took over as head coach, and that needs to be on full display right after the puck drop.

The injury absences of Filip Forsberg and Nick Cousins continues, while Alxenadre Carrier is also expected to miss another game as a critical piece to the defense. However, against the Blues on Thursday Philippe Myers played admirably while Mark Borowiecki also made a lot of key defensive plays.

8-5-1 (17P). 151. . 7 PM CT. 1-12-1 (3P). Bally Sports South. Saturday, Nov 13. 121

Prediction and Final Notes

I wouldn’t be too surprised if the game starts off choppy and the Coyotes keep it interesting initially. Both teams might even struggle to find scoring chances and we head into a scoreless first intermission.

Eventually the Predators should widen the gap on the scoreboard through aggressive offensive play that will draw penalties, and their surging power play can go to work.

There’s no comparison frankly in the goaltender matchup. The Coyotes have shuffled between 25-year-old rookie Karel Vejmelka (3.20 GAA) and 29-year-old Scott Wedgewood who has just 46 games and 11 wins in his NHL career.

I’m going final score of 3-1 in favor of the Nashville Predators. Not a resounding, dominating win as I can see the Predators possibly coming out a little flat like they did against the Blackhawks just six days ago.

Next. Sorting out the Complicated Future at Goaltender for Predators. dark

Cole Smith has been called up by the Predators from the Milwaukee Admirals as Rocco Grimaldi cleared waivers and was assigned to Milwaukee. Smith is another big-bodies, physical style forward that might get a chance over Michael McCarron in the starting lineup tonight.

Grimaldi was waived and deserves an NHL spot elsewhere, but for now it looks like he’ll have to go the hard route by playing in Milwaukee until he can maybe get another NHL shot eventually.

I’ll be the first to say that matchups like this scare me almost more than going up against a juggernaut like the Oilers because the Nashville Predators always seem to be streaky in these types of games they should be heavy favorites in. Maybe they can show me tonight that they’ve changed their ways.