After perhaps the ugliest loss of the season on Tuesday at the hands of the Seattle Kraken, the Nashville Predators have a chance to shift the narrative back in the right direction with an upset victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
The Predators managed to get two consecutive victories with wins over the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks before completely falling apart in the opening period against the Kraken, forcing Juuse Saros to be pulled for Kevin Lankinen.
Saros continues to battle some uncharacteristically bad goals given up, while also having horrendous defensive play in front of him and inconsistent goal support as well.
In other words, this team is just all around bad at the current moment and the Avalanche are a team that you probably don’t want to face when you’re trying to get out of the mud. But don’t tell the players that, because their mindset has to be the opposite and look at this as a great opportunity to get back on track and win for the third time in their last four.
Nashville Predators Have Opportunity to Make a Statement vs. Avs
Head Coach John Hynes will have a tricky decision to make on whether to throw Saros back out there to shake it off or go with Lankinen who blanked the Kraken over the final two periods.
“He came in and played well. We made some pushes in the game but he made some big plays for us. I thought he came in and played well and played solid and kept it at four when we were trying to claw our way back into the game. So, he did his job.” -John Hynes on Lankinen’s relief performance vs. Kraken
Hynes told the team’s official website courtesy of Emma Lingan that Lankinen played well in relief duty on Tuesday:
If I’m Hynes, I’m starting Lankinen against the Avalanche and seeing if he can provide the team one of those gems that balances the scales and gives you a fighting chance to win a low-scoring game.
The last time we saw the Avalanche they swept the Predators in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was the first sweep for the Predators to suffer in their history.
The Avalanche are coming off a dominant showing at the Global Series in Finland, getting two wins over the Columbus Blue Jackets by a combined score of 11-4.
Even though the Avalanche have been a little more ordinary than they were last season when they cruised through the regular season, they are still an incredibly potent team that has the ability to send the shaky Predators to another lopsided defeat.
To avoid this happening for a second-straight game, the Predators will have to guard against giving up odd man rushes at all costs. They have to keep this game close going into the final period. Digging themselves another multi-goal deficit will not bode well.
NHL Ranks for Preds and Avs
- Goals/Game: Avs 3.55 (8th), Preds 2.62 (29th)
- Power Play %: Avs 38.2 (1st) Preds 14.3 (29th)
- Penalty Kill %: Preds 83% (7th), Avs 70.7 % (29th)
- Goal Differential: Avs +8 (9th), Preds -10 (28th)
The Predators do their offensive damage most effectively when they crash the net and score the rebound goals. Create chaos in front of the netminder, draw some penalties and force the Avalanche to play your style. They cannot hang with the Avalanche with an end-to-end transition game trading scoring chances. That will more than likely heavily favor an easy Avalanche win.
Despite the Predators being successful against the Canucks in their comeback, they can’t keep living dangerously this way. That was more of an exception to the rule, and you have to consider the opponent.
Here’s a bad trend, among many for the Nashville Predators; they lead the NHL in 1st Period goals allowed with 19 surrendered. To make matters worse, they’re 30th in 1st Period goals scored with just seven.
The Nashville Predators have the players on paper to be much more competitive than they have shown through the first 13 games. A win over the Avalanche would be a launching point to reverse the course of a season that is starting to teeter on absolute disaster. Take the opportunity in stride, play a complete game, and see where the chips fall.