To unlock the full potential of the Nashville Predators, no doubt their offense can’t continue to be this mundane and unreliable.
Despite being on a modest hot streak as of late, the Nashville Predators once again weren’t able to get the best of the Tampa Bay Lightning, losing 5-2 on Thursday. Maybe the extra time off (3 games in 14 days) brought out a rusty start on Thursday night in Tampa.
It’s becoming a common theme that the Nashville Predators become invisible offensively during long stints of games, and instead have to fall on their heels defensively and hope for stellar goaltending and some lucky puck bounces.
That didn’t happen against the Lightning on Thursday. Juuse Saros wasn’t in his top form, and the Lightning pounced on many of their scoring opportunities while the Predators did not. The teams were virtually even on scoring chances per Natural Stat Trick.
The Nashville Predators Can’t Finish, and They Disappear
If you let up even for a five-minute stretch, the great teams will make you pay. That’s what happened in the first period when the Lightning scored two goals in less than two minutes, and then another two third period goals in a five-minutes span.
For the Nashville Predators, it comes down yet again to not capitalizing on scoring chances, especially on the power play. Each team only got two power plays, but the Lightning stuck on one while the Predators were blanked.
To their credit, the Predators did notch a shorthanded goal from Mark Jankowski.
The Predators are now 28th in the NHL in power play success rate, and the four teams behind them are all bottom feeders in their respective division. Not a good place to be in if your goal is to climb the Central Division standings and compete for postseason success.
If you take out the Predators’ two wins over the New York Islanders over the past three weeks, this team has regularly struggled to score more than three goals in a game. Not sustainable in today’s NHL.
Even in their wins, the Nashville Predators have had to hang on for dear life to get over the finish line with two points. Whether that was gutsy defensive play thanks to blocking shots, fortunate puck luck or outstanding goaltending, it has been a “hang on for dear life” scenario in many of these recent wins.
Now, you’ll always take two points any way you can get them and it doesn’t matter how pretty it is. Just get the two points, I get it. How much longer can they live dangerously this way without reliable offensive pressure?
Preds Have a Large Gap Between Them and the Best Teams, Still an Average Teams at Best
Just take the most recent game against a high-quality Tampa Bay Lightning. A shorthanded goal from Jankowksi sparked the team despite at the time in the game the Lightning running away with the shot totals:
The Predators were able to kick it up a gear and started peppering more shots on backup goaltender Brian Elliott. Alexandre Carrier finished off what was a beautiful offensive possession to tie the game at 2-2 in the second period.
The Lightning erupted in the third period, and although it wasn’t Saros’ best effort, he can’t save this team every game. He’s going to have off nights, and the Predators have to provide more goal support.
If this was an outlier game, then it would be easier to process. After all, the Nashville Predators did end up winning the shots on goal 36-33. However, this is a regular occurrence, and the Predators are one of the worst offensive teams in the NHL.
What is more concerning, is some of your top offensive players are being held to not even get many shots on goal. Filip Forsberg was held to two shots, Mikael Granlund one, and Ryan Johansen was held to zero shots against the Lightning. Cannot happen to players in your top-six.
Much like the power play, the only teams behind the Nashville Predators in goal production are three teams that are horrendous and going nowhere (Blackhawks, Flyers, Ducks). Not company you want to be in.
Against weaker opponents, sure, the Nashville Predators can get away with some of these offensive deficiencies and manage to hang around the middle in their pursuit for the postseason. With this product offensively, how should we expect anything more than a ceiling of losing in the first round again, and that’s best-case scenario, unfortunately.
To unlock this team’s full potential and give a glimmer of hope that they can become relevant again in the Western Conference, they have to figure out why they’re so unreliable offensively, even from period to period.