We’re just four games into the 2023-24 campaign for the Nashville Predators, and already we’re seeing some hover over that panic button. It’s certainly in the back of your mind, at least.
I’m here to calm everyone down. This isn’t football where one multi-game losing streak and your season is done. We have the Tennessee Titans for that.
As for the Predators, they’re a new project that’s going to take time. We understood this. Doesn’t make losing games you had a chance to win any easier, but certainly more understandable than if this roster was still beating the dead horse of rolling out Ryan Johansen as the top line center.
It’s not as bad as it seems. There’s several factors that has me feeling optimistic even after dropping three of the first four games.
Nashville Predators Have Had Their Chances to Score & Win
Two of the three losses the Predators have taken so far were games where the two points were there for the taking. And in extremely difficult environments on the road at Tampa Bay and Boston.
We’ll chalk up the crushing 6-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers as just having a very bad day at the office. It happens, and Leon Draisaitl should get part ownership of the Nashville Predators when he retires. It’s only fair.
Head Coach Andrew Brunette told the team media after the Oilers game this about how his team is playing so far:
Seriously, this Predators team just needs to start finishing on their opportunities they’re getting. The Predators currently have the sixth-lowest shooting percentage on all shot attempts, while also having the second worst Goals For Above Expected, at -7.83. That’s a lot of just not finishing on your chances, and for different reasons including just better goaltending.
This tells you that the Predators have created chances to score more. Unfortunately in the early going of this season, those pucks aren’t finding the back of the net. The Predators also lead the NHL in all situations in Expected Goals For at 16.83, but have just nine goals on the scoreboard to show for it.
The Predators were plagued in this area last season as well under John Hynes. They had the highest differential in Expected Goals For at nearly -44 goals. That’s 44 goals fewer than expected.
This isn’t to make excuses for the Predators, but to at least make sense of what’s going on past the box score. You would like to think that as the season rolls along and if the Predators keep plugging away with creating scoring chances, they’ll eventually be rewarded with actual goals.
All Analytics Courtesy of MoneyPuck.com
Forsberg & Josi Droughts, Power Play a Work in Progress
Filip Forsberg is the main catalyst here. He has 18 shots on goal but hasn’t broke through yet with a goal. Dating back to last season, leading up to his concussion against the Flyers, Forsberg has just one goal in his last 13 games.
Roman Josi also hasn’t scored a goal yet, adding another 16 shots on goal. You’re top two shot producers have yet to score a goal. That’s a whacky statistic on its own.
Of course everyone is going to go straight to the power play woes, which did tally it’s second power play goal of the season in the lone goal against the Oilers on Tuesday. Thomas Novak has both Predators power play goals, which is now 2-for-17 overall.
The schedule hasn’t been favorable, either, for the Predators. Their first five opponents have all been playoff teams from 2023, with the San Jose Sharks coming up on Saturday to break that streak of playoff opponents.
Will this push the Predators front office into making another roster change with cap space available, and go for a trade for Conor Garland from the Vancouver Canucks?
We have to trust the process and hope this team doesn’t fade too far out of the standings in the early going. They need to tread water a bit, and find a way to beat another really difficult opponent on the road when they take on the New York Rangers on Thursday.