Going into the game the Predators had a record of 1-2-0 and the Oilers were 0-2-0. The Predators have been dominated by the Oilers the past few seasons.
The last season that the Predators had a winning record against the Alberta team was during the 2018-19 season when they went 2-1-0 in the season series. Including last night’s game, the Predators have been outscored by the Oilers 31-55 in their past 13 games.
My keys to victory for last night’s game were stay out of the box, goal scorers need to step up, and play tight defense.
I thought for the most part the Predators played alright defensively. However, they did go to the box on three occasions and the Oilers made them pay for it going two for three on the man advantage. Not only do those goals hurt but the momentum that is built off those power plays is a killer too.
Struggles for Saros Early
Juuse Saros did not look good to start this game at all. The Oilers got on the board with their opening goal at 8:11 of the first period on the power play when Leon Draisaitl got a feed in the slot from Zach Hyman.
Saros went on to allow three more Oilers goals in the first period, including two in the final four minutes, just over a minute apart from each other.
Allowing four goals on just eleven shots led to an early exit for the Finnish netminder. He ended the game with a .636 save percentage and took the loss in the net.
Saros has struggled against the Edmonton Oilers throughout his career, playing in ten games and posting a 3-5-1 record. The Oilers have done what not many teams have and that is how to beat Saros and the Predators on a regular basis.
When Head Coach Andrew Brunette made the decision to remove Saros, that turned the reigns over to Kevin Lankinen. I thought Lankinen played decent coming off the bench for the final two frames of play.
Lankinen turned aside 17 of the 19 shots he faced but that still was not enough for this struggling Predators organization.
Where is the Predators Scoring?
The Nashville Predators are continuing the trend from last season of not being able to find the back of the net.
They are yet to score more than three goals in a game and only have nine goals in their first four contests. Some notables left off the goal column so far are Filip Forsberg, Tyson Barrie, Roman Josi, Luke Evangelista, and Philip Tomasino.
While it is a new system under Brunette, the Predators need to find ways to optimize their scoring chances and get the puck in the back of the net. One thing I have noticed through the first four games is the opposing goaltender can see most of the shots that they are facing. The Predators have not done a good job of providing screens in front of the net and taking the goalies eyes away.
Another thing that sticks out to me about the Predators offense so far is there have been several times that a player in the slot on a 2 on 1 or 3 on 2 situation has passed the puck to the wing rather than taking a shot from the slot and leaving the wing available to capitalize on a rebound. There is too much trying to find the perfect shot.
Through four games the Predators only have five players that have recorded a goal. To make matters even worse, there are only seven players on this roster that have more than one point.
Panic for the Nashville Predators?
I don’t think there is any reason to start panicking, Predators fans. The Predators did what fans have asked for and got rid of John Hynes, David Poile retired, and the team has entered somewhat of a rebuild.
If you look at the depth of this organization I firmly believe, they are only a few pieces away from being a very competitive team again. Now, it is possible that they do not have to trade anything to get those pieces.
Some of the players that are growing as NHL players could be the players that Nashville needs to take them back to the playoffs and bring home the coveted Stanley Cup to Smashville. It will just take time and patience as these young players grow, mature, and learn the system under Brunette.
With the youth that the Nashville Predators organization has on the team and in Milwaukee with their AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, they are preparing for the future. And let me tell you, the future looks promising for Predators fans, in my opinion.