We’re kind of seeing the polar opposite through the first seven games of the season compared to what we saw from the Nashville Predators in 2021-22.
Remember all those incredible, record-breaking individual performances from last season from the likes of Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Roman Josi? Yeah, it feels like a far cry from that right now.
To add onto that, the breakout rookie campaigns from Philip Tomasino, Alexandre Carrier and Tanner Jeannot made last season even more special. The team barely squeaked into the postseason, but nonetheless it was a pleasure to watch unfold.
Nashville Predators Stuck in the Mud
The Nashville Predators are in the midst of a five-game losing streak, their longest since a six-game losing streak in 2019 that saw the team lose eight of nine games. Let’s hope it doesn’t get that bad, but looking at the upcoming schedule, it doesn’t get any easier.
You can’t pinpoint one exact reason why the Nashville Predators are off to such a bad start. We can however look at the fact that collectively the team’s core veterans just aren’t producing at a level that’s required for success.
Some of this might be karma reversing in the other direction. Last season the team enjoyed extraordinarily good fortune. However, in the early goings of 2022-23, not so much.
Just take this eye-opening stat into account; the Predators are 31st in the NHL in goal per game at a meager 2.29. They only lead the San Jose Sharks in that category. Then take a look at teams’ Expected Goals For %, tracked by MoneyPuck.com, and you’ll see that the Predators are eighth.
My goodness what a disparity that illustrates that the Predators are getting their chances, and just not finishing by actually putting the puck past the goaltender.
So, let’s take a look at some players who must get their level of play back on track if the Predators are going to keep this losing streak from blossoming into something really bad.
1. Roman Josi
No better player to start with than the Captain, Roman Josi. Widely considered the most offensively gifted defenseman in the NHL and showed it by nearly hitting 100 points last season. Something that hadn’t been done in over three decades by a player at his position.
In seven games so far in this current campaign, Josi has just one point and no goals. It’s not as if he’s not getting offensively involved.
Among defensemen, Josi is fourth in the NHL in Expected Goals For and has the worst, or unluckiest, rating in Goals Scored Above Expected. Meaning he should definitely have more offensive production to show for it so far.
You have to hope and expect that the pendulum is going to swing back in Josi’s favor as long as he keeps at it. His offensive chances should start leading to more goals and assists, which will obviously be extremely beneficial to the Predators.
2. Matt Duchene
Duchene has just two goals so far, and they’re both in garbage time scenarios. One being an empty netter and the other coming late in the 3-1 loss to the Flyers when the game was already far out of reach.
It was a massive breakout season for Duchene in 2021-22 as he became the franchise’s single season record holder in goals with 43 while boasting an 18.9 shooting percentage. He hasn’t had that same fortune so far through seven games.
Duchene’s frustration has been very clear. It almost looks like he’s pressing too hard and getting too fancy at times. He’s already up to 18 penalty minutes after only having 38 all of last season.
The Predators don’t need Duchene to necessarily replicate a 40-plus goal campaign, but he certainly has to have a bigger offensive impact that he’s having otherwise we’ll be back to the same criticism he faced prior to 2021-22.
3. Filip Forsberg
One stat I can’t get over regarding Filip Forsberg’s start is how he has the second-most shots that have missed the net in the NHL. He has 46 total shot attempts, and 18 have missed the net completely and not forced the goaltender to even make a save.
Forsberg has to start connecting with his shot attempts. It’s an issue I have full confidence that he’ll correct, and you’ll see him go on a scoring barrage hopefully sooner rather than later.
Much of this comes down to timing as well. The passes just haven’t been as crisp, and of course the power play has been mediocre to just downright invisible to the point that they’re giving up shorthanded scoring opportunities.
Forsberg has to feast on the power play. There’s no denying that. A power play that ranked sixth in the NHL is now fallen 29th. Can they improve and quickly get that back to a respectable area? Sure they can, but it starts with Forsberg actually hitting the net with more of his shot attempts.
Final Thoughts on Nashville Predators Early Woes
These three players are expected to play at the highest of levels, but for different reasons, it hasn’t worked out in the early going.
It’s really quite simple; Josi, Forsberg and Duchene all have to show up consistently at a high level of play for the Nashville Predators to make the playoffs.
I can’t fathom a nightmare scenario when all three of these players continue on this downward trend. At least two of the three, and I would lean towards Josi and Forsberg, should start seeing their offensive luck return to more recognizable production levels.
Duchene is the wildcard. We know he’s streaky, so projecting whether or not he’ll get back into form is more uncertain for me to predict.