Where to begin with the 2022-23 Nashville Predators, who currently sit sixth in the Central Division and six points out of the wildcard. Not where we imagined after a busy offseason.
At this point in the season the Nashville Predators have played some terrible hockey with the exception of the games against the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks this past week. Is this enough to say this team is going back in the right direction?
A strong third period push was needed to take down the league’s worst team in the Blackhawks on Wednesday, so take that for what it’s worth.
Lack of offense, defensive lapses, top-10 in penalty minutes per game, and the infamous power play remains near the bottom despite getting the ninth-most power play chances per game in the NHL.
The Predators have dropped six of their last eight with losses to Tampa Bay, Ottawa, St. Louis, Edmonton, Winnepeg, and Colorado, only getting six points out of a possible 16 in that stretch. It’s made for a hard climb back into contention.
Lack of Offense and Goal Scoring from Nashville Predators
The Predators have only scored 78 goals through 31 games, an average of 2.51 goals per game. This ranks them only ahead of the Blackhawks in goal scoring.
Well, Forsberg has nine goals and Duchene also has nine goals. While these two players do not make up for all the goal scoring last season, they equated for a large portion of it. If the Predators are going to be successful, they need these two to find the back of the net more often.
During the 2021-2022 season the Nashville Predators had a lot of surprises on the offensive end of the ice. Tanner Jeannot had 24 goals and was in the talks for a possible Calder Trophy nomination. Ryan Johansen seemed to find his rhythm scoring 26 goals and having 37 assists, while Yakov Trenin chipped in with 17 goals, by far a career high.
All of these were positives for the team, but it just has not carried over into this season. Jeannot currently has just three goals, Johansen eight goals, and Trenin has two.
The goal scoring is down across the board. You can’t pinpoint one or two players that are behind the normal expected pace. They’re all struggling as a collective unit to find goals.
Through 31 games the Predators have one goal scorer with double digits and that is Nino Niederreiter with 11. Where would the Predators be without his addition to the lineup? Likely even worse than they already are offensively.
Nashville Predators Making Strides
The Predators rank right in the middle of the league in Goals Against per game thanks to steady goaltending from Saros and Lankinen. They have given up 94 goals for an average of 3.03 per game.
Furthermore, the Predators have given up 290 High Danger Chances which actually ranks them among the best in this category like the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche.
All this is happening with the addition of Ryan McDonagh to the blue line. He missed some time recently and the Predators felt it, despite rookie Jordan Gross rising to the challenge in the veteran’s absence.
The blue line needs to continue to show steady improvement and not rely on goaltending as much if this team is going to climb back into postseason contention.
Nashville Predators Power Play
It seemed as though the Predators had finally figured out the power play last season with a 24 percent success rate ranking sixth in the NHL. This was a sizeable increase from the 2020-2021 season that had a 17.6 percent success rate and ranked in the bottom half of the NHL.
The Predators have scored power play goals in two-straight games, and no coincidence those were both wins. The passing has been better with the man advantage so maybe they’re finally starting to build something.
Despite the recent two power play goals, the success rate is still under16 percent. When the Predators struggle in this area, they are usually passing the puck around the perimeter and not getting shots to the net. It seems like they are more concerned with getting the perfect shot instead of just getting the puck to the net and letting the net front players get tips and take the goalie’s eyes away.
To confidently say the bleeding has stopped for the Nashville Predators, the power play will have to make a drastic improvement over the remainder of the season that’s nearing the halfway point.
Can The Nashville Predators Control The Bleed?
If this Nashville Predators team is going to make a push for the playoffs they need to improve in many aspects of the game.
The Predators improved their roster during the offseason and have not been rewarded for it through the first 31 games like many expected. With two division games forthcoming, the Predators are in desperate need to build a winning streak.
According to Moneypuck.com, the Predators currently have a 13.6 percent chance to make the playoffs. If they miss, it will end a postseason streak of eight consecutive seasons and might finally push forth a true rebuild.
If this team plays how they did against the Edmonton Oilers, they will continue to have success. Otherwise, come the end of April when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin the Nashville Predators will be on the outside looking in.