With all of the chaos surrounding the Nashville Predators entering their Sunday night matchup with the Arizona Coyotes, I wasn’t sure how their play on the ice would respond.
The Predators came into the game with a shocking announcement that General Manager David Poile was stepping down and transitioning to Barry Trotz, while also sitting Tanner Jeannot at warm-ups due to trade reasons.
Jeannot was traded later in the evening to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a load of draft picks and defenseman Cal Foote.
A lot to process if you’re a player having to suit up for a game and block out all of the noise. The Predators had to dress only 10 forwards, leaving them unable to have a structured four lines. This coming against a Coyotes team that has been buzzing as of late despite where they are in the standings.
Nashville Predators Come in Focused and Disciplined against Yotes
After surrendering the first goal of the game to the Coyotes, the Predators really dialed in and used crisp passing and even a little team speed to create scoring chances.
This could’ve easily been a game where giveaways in your own zone were plentiful and the Coyotes piled up some goals on Juuse Saros. A combination of great goaltending by Saros and minimizing mistakes in their own zone gave the Predators a chance to assert their will.
would get the Predators on the board with his ninth goal of the season after
found a loose puck in the neutral zone and aggressively pounced into the offensive zone:
Connor Ingram, who ended up having a rough night at the office, burped up the rebound off Tomasino’s shot and Trenin found the loose rebound. Beautiful, aggressive hockey that we haven’t seen enough of.
Matt Duchene and Roman Josi would add the next two goals to stretch the Predators’ lead to 3-1, but how much gas was in the tank was a question all night. Could they maintain this energy and hold the Coyotes back?
Nick Schmaltz, a dynamic offensive player who has been in some NHL trade rumors himself, got the Coyotes back to within one goal near the midway point of the second period.
With the game very much hanging in the balance, the Predators took control in the third period and didn’t look back.
More contributions from the younger core of the roster came as Tommy Novak tallied his ninth goal of the season, in just his 26th game since being called up. The dude has been on a heater recently with 11 points in his last five games.
Josi would add his second goal of the game and 17th overall to stretch the lead out to insurmountable for the Coyotes. That puts Josi tied for second among defensemen in goals, only trailing Erik Karlsson‘s 19 goals.
Glass would put the cherry on top with a laser of a power play goal to end this one in a final score of 6-2.
What this win means moving forward for the Predators and the Deadline
Look, the Nashville Predators are taking advantage of a soft portion of their schedule. That doesn’t take away from the fact that they’re showing progress and playing some decent hockey despite all of the outside noise.
As previously mentioned, I had no clue how this team would respond to everything against a Coyotes team that has some impressive wins to their résumé, including victories over Boston, Tampa, Vegas and Minnesota. This isn’t a pushover team.
There’s now just two games before the trade deadline this Friday. The Predators crept up to six points out and upped their postseason chances per MoneyPuck to 24 percent.
As commendable as this win is considering the circumstances, the front office with Trotz now in charge shouldn’t change their original strategy. Continuing to seek out trade partners in this market should be the objective.
Is Dante Fabbro next? I would think so, but also don’t forget there’s an outside chance that Mattias Ekholm could be traded, too. It’s all about the value from other teams’ perspectives. That’s what happened with Jeannot as the offer from Tampa was just too high to pass up.
Next up is the Pittsburgh Penguins, a desperate team on the Eastern Conference playoff bubble who just roasted the Lightning for seven goals.
If the Predators beat a quality team like the Penguins on Tuesday, then of course it will give Trotz more to chew on. Welcome aboard, Trotzy. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Regardless of these last two games, the Nashville Predators need to hold true to their overall grand picture of how to build this franchise into a contender again. Let the chips fall where they may, but don’t hold back because you’re six points out.