The Nashville Predators had a rough first game at home on Thursday night, losing 4-1 to one of their biggest rivals in the Dallas Stars.
It really was not much of a contest, as the Nashville Predators looked flat and sluggish and did not do well in any category of the game.
It is disappointing that it happened in the home opener, but it is only one game when the Predators had already won their previous two games to start the season. And luckily, they get another chance against the same opponent just two days later.
The Predators are in Dallas for a rematch with the Stars, which provides the perfect opportunity for a big bounce back. Even if they make zero changes to the actual lineup for tonight’s game, they can still win if they do the following three things.
Forecheck, forecheck, forecheck
The Predators are a team that has played their best hockey when forechecking effectively, and Thursday night’s game figured to be a big game in that aspect given the physical nature of the two teams. For some reason, they chose to do almost none of that.
Instead of keeping it simple, the Predators were constantly trying to make fancy plays happen when they had the puck, and they repeatedly failed at it, getting virtually nothing of note on Jake Oettinger.
Doing that was never going to work against a team as defensively sound as the Stars, yet the Predators kept going at it.
That has to change tonight if the result is going to be in the favor of the Predators. They have to force the Stars to defend down behind the goal because that will force them out of their defensive structure, which is how the Predators will generate chances and eventually goals.
You cannot get away from your bread and butter when you need it most, so the Predators have to be smart and get back to what has made them the most successful.
Refrain from puck watching
The Predators have a stellar defense on paper, but you certainly would not know it from watching them on Thursday. And in no way was this more apparent than watching them on the penalty kill.
The third goal at even strength was yet another situation where the Predators broke down defensively and started following the puck instead of defending properly.
What the Stars did to the Predators was exactly what they themselves need to do — maintain a shape and keep your opponent to the outside of the shooting lanes. If you constantly follow the puck, vast areas of the ice will be open, so they cannot let that happen tonight.
When you watched the Predators on Thursday night, it was clear how uncoordinated everything seemed to be. Passes were forced and not connecting, the defense was constantly on their heels, and the overall offense was trying to make big plays happen every time instead of just doing their thing.
The two points beforehand come down to the bigger point that is right here — settle down. There is no need to play every shift like you have to go all out to score a goal or prevent one.
It is a long game, and when you try to do too much, that is how you get burned. The Predators just need to collect themselves and trust that going back to what has been successful will continue to be successful, they built their identity for a reason.
On paper these two teams should be evenly matched. The fact is, the Predators aren’t going to beat very many teams in the NHL if they put forth the same effort they did on Thursday, but the mistakes are magnified in this division rivalry.
We’re still waiting on a projected lineup and if Cody Glass will be available as he missed Thursday’s game with an illness and was considered day-to-day. They need his offensive presence back quarterbacking the fourth line.
Catch the action at 7:00 P.M. CDT on Bally Sports South or through ESPN+ if outside the regional viewing area.