The Nashville Predators have had quite a frustrating past three games, to say the least. It is not like they haven’t played well in that stretch, because they have, but finding the back of the net has been a major challenge.
Opposing goaltenders have saved 97 of 101 shots that the Predators have put on net in the past three outings, despite them seemingly doing everything in their power to score. Their strategy has been a winning one in theory, but when the same issue happens repeatedly, it is time to make adjustments.
You are probably looking at this and thinking that there is nothing more that the Predators can do to get the results in their favor, and they might not be able to do much from a game-planning standpoint. However, one personnel change might end up making a huge difference.
Nashville Predators need their two best forwards on the same line
Head Coach John Hynes made a questionable decision after the game against the Buffalo Sabres, as he decided to break up Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene. This was seemingly done with Eeli Tolvanen and Philip Tomasino in mind, as Hynes wanted to put each of them with a veteran in order to get their production up.
Let’s just say that plan hasn’t worked, and it has stunted the offense as a whole. Since the lineup change was made, the Predators have scored a whopping total of seven goals at five-on-five play, which has been over the course of five games.
Again, it’s not like the Predators have made any major adjustments to their game plan, the pucks just aren’t getting past the goaltender. And this is not the same team from years ago that was so offensively troubled, which makes the recent struggles even more confusing.
The truth is that right now, the Predators are missing the finishing ability that their first line gave them when they had Forsberg and Duchene together. Tolvanen and Tomasino are just not at the level of the two veterans at this point and will not be able to keep pace with them.
Preds have to have a dominant top line for playoff success
In order for this team to have a chance to go far in the playoffs, the top line has to be playing at a dominant level, and it’s just not with the way it is currently constructed.
The Predators in this recent offensive slump have struggled to give goal support to Juuse Saros, and have dropped to 25th in the NHL in Expected Goals For at 5v5, per MoneyPuck.com.
It is understandable that the Predators would want to get their highly-touted youngsters going, but eventually, we cannot keep making excuses for them. They will either rise to the occasion or they will not, and their play on the ice, regardless of the players around them, will dictate whether or not they are here to stay.
Inability to finish chances is a very real and big problem for the Nashville Predators, and it has only been this way since Forsberg and Duchene were separated. Putting them back together would be a very easy change that we know has worked, and we need to see it happen again.