Are the Nashville Predators Showing Their True Colors?

Dec 2, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) skates the puck into the offensive zone ahead of pressure from Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (71) during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) skates the puck into the offensive zone ahead of pressure from Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (71) during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
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After GM David Poile completed all of the pre-season moves, fans of the Nashville Predators tempered their expectations about how far this team could go before the season even started. The Predators could find themselves in the bottom half of the Central Division at the season’s end, with slim chances of a wildcard spot.

With the 6th youngest roster in the NHL and the lingering possibility of a Filip Forsberg trade, this could wind up being a mini-rebuild year for Nashville after all.

The Nashville Predators struggle against tougher opponents

A rough start to the Predators’ season, only winning one of their first five games, further validated the feelings of fans and analysts everywhere. And as we started to get a pretty clear picture of the ceiling for the season, the Predators went on a tear, winning eight of their next ten games. One of those losses was against a very tough Edmonton Oilers team, the other an OT loss to the Central Division bottom-dweller Chicago Blackhawks.

Nashville then ran into the red-hot Toronto Mapleleafs, and they haven’t been the same since. Beginning with the loss to Toronto, the Predators have only won three of their last eight outings.

In this latest stretch, the Predators have suffered some pretty lopsided losses, the first of which was a 6-3 drumming by the lowly Montreal Canadiens. Nashville’s only saving grace in this game, dominated by Montreal, was a 3rd-period natural hat trick by Matt Duchene.

Nashville suffered a 6-2 beating by the Colorado Avalanche, described by most as the worst loss of the season. The Vegas Golden Knights also handed the Predators a lopsided 5-2 loss. I think you can start to see a pattern forming, and it spells trouble for the Predators as the season carries on.

If you take Nashville’s losses to Montreal, Chicago, and Seattle out of the equation, you can plainly see that the Predators have trouble beating the tougher teams in the league. Not counting those three games, the Predators gave up a total of 33 goals in the eight other losses while only scoring  13. The Predators’ lack of scoring isn’t a good sign for a team that hopes to make the playoffs for the 8th straight season.

Predators struggle despite strong performances by star players

The bright spot for the Nashville Predators has been the play of a few of its star players, some of which have struggled in past seasons. Duchene and Ryan Johansen are enjoying a rejuvenation of their careers while Roman Josi is on pace to gather his second Norris trophy.

Mikael Granlund is also playing his best hockey since his arrival in Nashville. In addition, Juuse Saros, despite some struggles, has played incredibly well behind a team that, at times, doesn’t do him any favors.

Despite the elevated play of these players, the Predators still have many areas of concern, including the ability to play consistently from game to game. For example, the Predators enjoyed a 6-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets only to lose two days later to a Boston Bruins team missing one of their star players and head coach.

While the inconsistency is Nashville’s most glaring problem, the team has seen its share of turnovers, bad passing, and at times, limited puck possession in the offensive zone. Mind you, these deficiencies are not constant, with some games worse than others, but they do manage to creep in at the most inopportune times.

It’s still early in the season, but…

The good news for the Predators is that it is still relatively early in the season. They are showing promise and have made progress that can be built upon. The bad news is that adjustments need to be made now and drilled into the players’ heads on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, we never know which Nashville team will show up on a given night. Some nights they are brilliant, while other nights, they struggle immensely. While we always like to see the wins, the losses are easier to stomach when they fully execute their game plan, but sometimes we just don’t see the effort with this roster.

The Predators have fared better than expected so far this season, even without a single truly elite player on the roster. And while it is easy to get caught up in the glory of a string of wins, we have to realize that this team could possibly be up and down all season.

The Nashville Predators may or may not make the playoffs this season or the next, but clearly, there is a plan in place to develop the younger players under the guidance of the seasoned veterans. So the best advice is to enjoy the victories, shrug off the losses, and look forward to a brighter future on the horizon.

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