Has it really come to this? Having to compare the Nashville Predators to some of the worst teams in the NHL?
Unfortunately, after yet another abysmal and inexcusable lopsided loss on Thursday at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche, it’s time to call it like it is. The Nashville Predators are not a good hockey team right now and you can’t just simply say “it’s early and this team will figure it out”.
When you scan through the other NHL teams who are mediocre to just downright horrendous so far this season, you see plenty of options to put right down there with the Predators.
Maybe that makes you feel a little better that the Predators aren’t alone when it comes to some pretty terrible starts?
It would be one thing if the Predators were having some hard-fought losses and the victims of some unfortunate luck late in regulation. However, these are outright beatdowns in many of these games.
Are the Nashville Predators Really Among the Worst in the NHL?
If you’re going strictly off of team play at the current moment, it’s hard to argue that the Nashville Predators aren’t one of the worst teams in the NHL. They’re in the bottom third in a lot of key statistical categories including goal scoring (31st), goals against (25th), power play (29th) and missed shots (5th most).
To compound the problem, the first period has been a nightmare we can’t wake up from. The Predators lead the NHL in first period goals surrendered with 20. They’re not retaliating, either. At least not until the game is already completely out of hand, like we saw against the Kraken when they erupted on Juuse Saros for four goals in the opening frame.
It’s still entirely possible that the Predators eventually start making gradual gains in some of these areas and round back out to just another ordinary fringe team clawing their way for a wildcard spot. I’m not ready to completely jump off the cliff in that regard.
When I look over the other really bad teams, I can’t bring myself to say the Predators are worse than the San Jose Sharks, whom they already beat twice, the Anaheim Ducks or the Vancouver Canucks. All teams from the Pacific Division. They also had a 6-2 win over the last place St. Louis Blues, so there’s that.
However, in the Central Division, I can’t confidently say the Predators would beat the Arizona Coyotes in a seven-game series. It would probably go seven games, and maybe the Predators prevail. Thankfully, none of us will be subjected to that torture.
In the Eastern Conference there is only one team you can contemplate that the Nashville Predators are better than, and that’s the Ottawa Senators. Even that team is drastically underperforming their preseason expectations, so who knows until they play head-to-head.
The point is, it’s sad we’re even having to float this idea around. But it’s completely valid. The Predators have five wins, and none of them are against teams in the current playoff picture.
In return, the Predators have gotten decisively beaten by high quality teams. Just take the combined scoring margin in the losses to the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche and Seattle Kraken. A margin of defeat of 26-10. Just not even competitive.
The Predators are Running Out of Time to Salvage this Season
Greg Wyshynski of ESPN recently listed four teams in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes and didn’t mention the Nashville Predators as one of those teams initially. He responded with this tweet to the fanbase asking “why not?”:
Some Predators fans have reached out with “why not us?” on the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.
1. I refuse to believe Saros is going to remain a below expected goalie for the season.
2. That said, having a generational offensive talent playing in Nashville would absolutely rule.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) November 11, 2022
Wyshynski cites the Saros effect. That he will eventually play his way out of this, as we have speculated on this site, and that the Predators will essentially rebound into a middle-of-the-pack team.
Saros is currently 58th among goaltenders in Goals Saved Above Expected with a negative 2.7, per MoneyPuck.com.
Gone seem the days when the Predators could get bailed out by stellar play in net to rally for the two points despite not playing their best game. Perhaps that changes as the seasons rolls on and Saros steals some wins to make this more respectable.
That’s probably the worst-case scenario for many Predators fans. Not only are you saying the team will remain ordinary, but they also will miss out on drafting a generational talent? Even if it’s not Bedard, the 2023 draft class looks outstanding. No, thank you. We’d rather pack this season in and roll the dice with the draft lottery.
When it comes to the sake of this discussion about stacking the Predators up against the worst teams in the league currently, I tend to side with Wyshysnki’s outlook on Saros.
Saros’ concerningly bad numbers can’t remain this bad. There are many factors at play that aren’t all on Saros, which scares me into thinking maybe he won’t play his way out of it. So many defensive breakdowns and inconsistent goal support.
Predators Next Game:
A win over the New York Rangers on Saturday would be an effective way to get yourself out of the “worst team” conversation, but it’s hard to see them managing that in this current state of affairs.
With the exception to the St. Louis Blues, the Nashville Predators are the most disappointing team of the NHL so far. All of those incredible career years have fizzled into virtually nothing. Sure, Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene are getting their points, but almost always in meaningless times in the game when the score is out of reach.
There isn’t just one problem you can circle with the Predators right now. There are several, and that is why I only put a few teams behind the Predators currently. Until there is sustained improvement in multiple areas, then they’re near the bottom with the potential to have a shot at Bedard when it’s all said and done.
Here’s my “Bottom of the Barrell” NHL rankings as we’re in the second week of November. As you’ll notice, there is a massive gap in quality teams between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.
- San Jose Sharks (4-9-3)
- Anaheim Ducks (4-9-1)
- Vancouver Canucks (4-7-3)
- St. Louis Blues (4-8-0)
- Nashville Predators (5-8-1)
My top five, and really my top six, worst teams are all from the West right now, with the Senators being my first team from the East.