The early season woes continued for the Nashville Predators on Thursday with another late multi-goal lead surrendered, this time to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
I compared this current four-game losing streak by the Predators to when you get a stomach bug just a couple weeks before you’re due to go on a beach vacation somewhere in the Caribbean. You’d rather not get the stomach bug at all, but it’s way better to get it two weeks before vacation than getting it the day before you leave.
The point being, it’s still extremely early in the regular season. The Predators are six games in with a 2-3-1 record. The unnerving part is a combination of getting trounced twice by a division rival, giving up late leads with very little pushback, and your only two wins against a very underwhelming opponent.
Nashville Predators aren’t alone in early season problems
The truth is there are several top tier teams that have struggled early this season as well. Look at the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’re 1-3-0 and are struggling to generate goal production despite plenty of elite talent to do so.
The Minnesota Wild, a team many hockey aficionados in the preseason had pegged as the second-best team in the Central Division, and even a trendy Stanley Cup pick. They’re also 1-3-0 and had to make a comeback on Thursday against the Canucks to get their first win.
The New York Rangers just lost to those previously mentioned and horrendous Sharks, while the Maple Leafs lost to the Arizona Coyotes.
Even the untouchable Colorado Avalanche have already lost two games on the young 2022-23 season.
Only two teams remain without a regulation loss and a majority of teams have yet to play more than five games; the Dallas Stars (3-0-1) and St. Louis Blues (2-0-0).
This all to say that as disjointed as the Nashville Predators look right now, this is the ideal time to get over your stomach bug. Get it out of your system, correct your issues, and fine tune your game as the season progresses.
What is plaguing this team, and what’s the remedy?
The problems that need to be corrected to break out of this funk has already been well-noted. The loss against the Kings was a penalty fiasco and breaking down defensively late in the game.
It felt like a horrible rerun against the Blue Jackets just 48 hours later, until the Predators proceeded to skip overtime and just leave without a single point. But again, it was breaking down defensively and looking like you were skating with brick skates while the Blue Jackets were effortlessly gliding right by defenders.
Now isn’t the time to break this pairing up, but that’s just my humble opinion. It’s too early and throwing your prized acquisition over the offseason down to the third pairing could have more negative effects that whatever positive it may bring in the short-term.
Also, how bad will that look on General Manager David Poile if his top offseason acquisition is already playing a third pairing role after six games? Even if it’s not a direct indictment on McDonagh’s individual play, I’m weary about how that will affect the locker room.
The Predators have to ride this out, show their grit, and play their way out of this. They have the talent to flip this losing streak into an equally lengthy winning streak. I still haven’t risen my 1 to 10 panic meter above a “4”.
That being said, this team definitely looks shell shocked and disengaged during critical moments in games. Most notably the last two against the Kings and Blue Jackets.
A team like the Predators full of battled tested veterans should be able to correct these things fast moving forward. If I’m this frustrated over it, then I have to hope their frustration level is 100 times more.
I’ll repeat what I said before the Columbus game; get back to the basics and stop beating yourself. Well, they didn’t do that against Columbus, but maybe they can figure it out against Philly on Saturday.
The truth is, we won’t be talking about this frustrating four-game losing streak a month or two from now if the Predators begin to string together some wins, stay relevant in the division race, and their power play finally catches stride with their top veteran scorers.
This is where Head Coach John Hynes has to earn his money and prove he’s the right person for this job. He has to hold the locker room together and get this team fired up. In the end, he can’t go out there and execute for them. That’s on the veterans, and it’s a shared blame between all of them right now.
Let’s find the remedy for this stomach bug, crush it and get back to Nashville Predators hockey before this gets too out of hand and the whole season becomes a wash. There’s still plenty of time before we leave for that summer vacation.