The Nashville Predators continue their early season struggles after an embarrassing showing against the Edmonton Oilers, losing 7-4.
After a great start under a minute in to go up 1-0 courtesy of Mattias Ekholm‘s first of the season, the Preds’ essentially got grilled with the firepower and speed of the Oilers. After the opening goal, the Oilers responded with 4 goals in the first period alone to go up 4-1 by the end of the period.
In the second, the Oilers added to that lead after Connor McDavid put the Oilers up 5-1 on the power play. Unwilling to let the bleeding continue, the Preds responded with a power play goal of their own after Roman Josi threw a puck towards the net to allow Ryan Johansen to tip it in to make it 5-2.
In the Third, The Preds had a little pushback, after a pretty Forsberg goal, as well as Nino Niederreiter depositing on the power play, but once again the Oilers squashed any comeback hopes.
Let’s look at some key reasons that costed the Preds this crucial game.
Nashville Predators Couldn’t Match Edmonton Oilers’ Speed
The Nashville Predators looked like they were having circles ran around them, as the Preds just could not find a way around the Oilers’ speed and skill. Nearly every zone entry was predictable and no issues for the Oilers, who already have some defensive issues.
Nashville looked lost for the majority of the evening, especially in the first period, and the Oilers made it look like it was practice, skating around the offensive zone and not allowing the Predators to escape the zone and start an attack.
The Predators offense has been nonexistent to start the season, and that may as well be an understatement. Its one thing to see players regress, but its a whole other animal when they seem to be nonexistent. The Predators have to get their offense back and play MUCH better defensively in front of Saros to even have a chance in the NHL at this point.
Penalties Once Again Plague the Preds
The Predators didn’t help themselves at all last night. Anytime the Predators had some momentum, they would take a frustration penalty and put what is, in my opinion, the world’s best power play on the ice. Not a recipe for success, to say the least.
Early in the game, the Predators actually killed off most of Edmonton’s penalties, continuing to make the penalty kill, which has actually been a bright spot for the Preds, even better. Alas, however, as the game went on the Oilers started to pile on the power play goals.
Late in the game, when the Predators started to claw back and look to mount a comeback, they would take a frustration penalty and the Oilers would score. If you look at the first period when the score was 4-1, if the Preds didn’t take these penalties they may have flipped the script to tie it at 4-4.
Penalties have been plaguing the team since last season, and the Preds desperately have to get them under control. The Penalty Kill has been stepping up for the team, but when you are against an elite power play, its hard to take those kinds of minutes killing a penalty.
The Nashville Predators are a team that are quickly fading into obscurity this season. After what we all thought was a successful offseason, expectations were high, and lots of fans have already lost all patience.
With all of the hype over the offseason, the Preds were poised to become a legitimate threat in the Central, only to fall flat to open the season and with no real end in sight, many are starting to question whether a coaching change is needed.
It’s still early, but the Preds cannot afford to let this ship continue sinking. The team has to turn it around fast. I feel like this is a statement on repeat, but there really isn’t a better way to put it. Time is running out, we are 10 games in with a record of 3-6-1. If there is any time to get it going, its now.