There’s really no sugarcoating last night’s monumentally embarrasing showing from the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Colorado Avalanche.
Quite frankly, the Predators looked like a team that took a wrong turn somewhere and accidently ended up in the postseason. Now, it’s just one game and they can make us completely forget about that debacle if they pull off the unthinkable in Game 2.
However, there are some major reasons why the Nashville Predators got dished a heavy dose of humble pie in Tuesday night’s 7-2 loss, which sadly doesn’t illustrate just how lopsided it was.
Reason #1 Nashville Predators were Exposed:
There’s just no way the Nashville Predators can match with these speed teams like the Colorado Avalanche. It was a clinic of great skating and offensive rushes by the Avs, and the Predators had very little resistence.
I’m not even sure this is a correctable issue in these playoffs. Perhaps the Predators can draw the Avalanche down in the mud with them and get the Avalanche off their finesse style of play. Otherwise, we’re probably going to see more of the same in the remaining games of the series.
Surprisngly enough, the Avalanche didn’t dominate the high-danger chances as much as you would think. Per Naturdal Stat Trick, the Avs had 15 high-danger chances to the Predators’ 11 high danger chances in all situations. The difference is, the Avalanche finished on their chances, while the Predators mostly did not.
The Avs are going to continue to push the pace and force the Predators into difficult defensive situations. It doesn’t matter who is between the pipes, which we’re about to get to, if the Avalanche skate freely in transition for prime scoring chance off the rush.
Reason #2 Nashville Predators were Exposed:
And now to the goaltender, or lack thereof. Look, I’m not going to join the crusade of pitchforks coming after David Rittich. Yes, he was horrible along with the rest of his teammates. No one was good on this team last night, aside from Matt Duchene.
Rittich just isn’t the at that elite level that can fend off that kind of barrage that the Avalanche were throwing at the Predators to immediately open the game. In fact, the vast majority of goaltenders on the planet would’ve also given up five-plus goals.
Maybe the world class caliber of Juuse Saros would’ve been able to keep it closer, but even then, it’s probably a loss anyway.
Prime Pekka Rinne isn’t walking through that door, and we’re finally in rare territory as a franchise of not having faith in our goaltending to cover up all of the other weaknesses on this team. Hard pill to swallow.
Reason #3 Nashville Predators were Exposed
You had one team that was poised to make a statement and was 100 percent prepared to execute right at the opening puck drop. They were on a mission and really showed no mercy. I’ll let you decide which team I’m talking about.
The Predators looked completely shell-shocked and not ready to play, and of all times, in Game 1 of the playoffs. Just inexecusable, and that also falls on Head Coach John Hynes and his coaching staff.
Yes, these are professionals and need to take personal accountability as well, but Hynes didn’t have his team prepared for the buzzsaw. It’s one thing to go down swinging and still lose. It’s a whole other issue when your team never shows up, and the only bright spot is a ticked off Duchene scoring while getting chants of “Duchene Sucks” getting throw at him from an arena full of rowdy fans:
Lazy, unprepared performances like this is what gets coaches fired. I’m not calling on Hynes to be fired off of one game, but he better get this team preapred as the head coach to play a much more respectable effort in Game 2.
Hynes is due for a contract extension this offseason. If his Nashville Predators team gets swept in ugly fashion like they got rolled in Game 1, how will the front office react?
Game 2 Outlook
It’s looking like Hynes still hasn’t said who will officially start Game 2 in net, but it has to be Connor Ingram, right?
Ingram looked much more comfortable after coming in for Rittich with the score already 5-0. The pressure was off by then, but it was on Ingram to not let it get worse, which he did a good job of that at least making 30 saves on 32 shots. The Avalanche definitely didn’t let their foot off the gas.
I do expect a much better effort from the Predators in Game 2, but does that mean I think they’ll win? Not at all. The Avs are just too much for them. I’ll stick with my original prediction of Avs in 5, with the Predators winning Game 4 to get it back to Colorado for Game 5.