The Nashville Predators will welcome the Arizona Coyotes tonight in Bridgestone Arena at 7:00 PM. While the Coyotes aren’t at the top of the standings, they are still an NHL team and would love to disrupt the Preds in squeaking into a Wild Card playoff spot.
The Preds will need to have a better showing tonight to build off of moving forward. While they did pick up an OT victory against the Flyers Saturday afternoon, their performance left much to be desired. And without their best goal scorer in Filip Forsberg, the entire team will need to kick it up a notch. Let’s look at the 3 keys the Preds will need to not only win tonight’s match, but have a solid foundation to build upon.
1. Nashville Predators Need Quick And SUSTAINED Offense
It’s no secret that the Preds’ offense has been lackluster, to say the least. The Preds will not only need to strike quickly, but continue to drive their offense and maintain zone time in the Coyotes’ zone.
The Preds have been decent about getting on the board rather fast, but the issue is that’s usually the best offense that we see all game. The team needs to continue to be hungry and put the Yotes’ on their heels. Hard defensive minutes will wear down the Yotes, and only create more space for the Predators to operate.
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If the Preds can strike first early, that will build momentum for the team. To keep hold of that momentum, the attack needs to be relentless for a full 60 minutes. Sitting back on your heels is how teams will take that momentum and hop into the driver’s seat. The Preds need to prevent this from happening once again, as we all likely remember what happened last Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights.
2. Get Special Teams Going
Currently, the Coyotes have a 75.6% penalty-killing percentage, good for 23rd in the NHL. While not the worst unit in the league, it still leaves plenty of room for it to be exploited.
The Preds absolutely must get what was once a league-leading powerplay from last year back, and take advantage of a penalty kill that is sure to leave a few holes for the Preds to operate in.
The Preds powerplay is currently sitting at a 16.4%, good for 28th in the league. The powerplay is a sore spot for the Preds, but hopefully they can get a spark tonight against the Yotes.
3. Take More Shots Down Low Than Up High
The Preds tend to get setup in the offensive zone, only to pass the puck to a defenseman at the blue line for a shot that is more or less a hopeful shot for a tip or to cause chaos. While not a bad plan, the Preds need to start shooting more from the high danger areas.
I’m talking about delivering the puck to the dirty areas, the low slot, the bottom of the face-off circles, areas where the shots are much more dangerous for a goaltender to handle. These types of shots will cause even more chaos and break down the defense a lot more easily than constant shots from the point.
If the Predators only take shots from the point, they could absolutely get a few lucky bounces, but you can’t rely on luck all the time to win you a hockey game, especially in the NHL. The Predators will need to get to the dirty areas to really establish a rhythm.
Overall, the name of the game is offense. When you get into a rhythm, it becomes a lot easier to drive your offense and put your opponents on their heels. The Nashville Predators need to get going quick and keep that same hunger for a full 60 minutes.
The Predators need to figure out what is going on with their power play. We’ve seen it all season, and I still can’t quite fathom what is causing the Preds’ power play to struggle. Nonetheless, the Preds need to get going on the man-advantage, and tonight is the perfect start.
The Preds also need to drop their love with shots from the point and start shooting from the dangerous areas. Slots from down low are obviously the main goal, but they will need to create the space. Rather than take the easy route, try a few seam passes and get the defenders moving around. From there, the team just needs to use their open space to capitalize.
It’s almost time for some Predators hockey, and I sure hope some of these issues are addressed. We will see soon what the Predators will bring to the table tonight with puck drop set for 7 PM. The Predators need to take care of business, no question about that. Willy Daunic and Chris Mason will have the call