It’s Happening; Nashville Predators Are Discovering their Secret Sauce

Nashville Predators right wing Luke Evangelista (77) reacts after scoring against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators right wing Luke Evangelista (77) reacts after scoring against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

Heading into 2023-24 the Nashville Predators were a mystery around the NHL; no one really knew what to expect from this new-look and revamped roster, but one thing was clear is that it would probably take time to work out the kinks.

Now coming up on their 20th game of the season when they take on the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, the Predators have slowly began to dig themselves out of the hole and have won four-straight games, and three of those against Central Division opponents.

The latest win comes in absolute clinical fashion against the St. Louis Blues to the tune of a 8-3 final score, with three-point games from Filip Forsberg, Luke Evangelista and Kiefer Sherwood.

It was the first eight-goal game for the Nashville Predators since they put up eight in a shutout over the San Jose Sharks on March 5, 2022. The franchise record is nine goals in a game, done three times.

Games of Nine or More Goals in Nashville Predators History

  • 11/18/2014: 9-2 Win vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
  • 3/18/2006: 9-4 Win vs. Calgary Flames
  • 3/4/2004: 9-4 Win vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

So what is exactly behind this sudden surge by the Predators in not only scoring, but also much better special teams play and defensive structure? Overall, the team is just clicking on all cylinders after beginning this long home stretch with losses after blowing two-goal leads in both.

Everyone is Tugging the Rope on the Nashville Predators Right Now

Not trying to sound overdramatic here, but the Predators really are getting contributions up and down the lineup. It’s not just Forsberg and Ryan O’Reilly having to carry the scoring load.

Heck, just look the depth scoring as of late. Sherwood is up to nine points in 19 games, Evangelista is second among all NHL rookies in points with 12, and even Cole Smith is over halfway to his NHL career high in points and is on pace for a 30-plus point season.

The Predators already have seven players in double digits in points. Everyone who is a regular skater on this team is finding the scoresheet. Yes, even Jeremy Lauzon.

In all seriousness, the Predators are in store for a lot of wins if this depth scoring continues. Many teams have to heavily rely on their top two lines to carry the load. The Predators are showing playoff caliber tendencies with a deep lineup lines one through four.

The Predators are Hungry, They’re Trusting the Process

This comes down to effective coaching on Andrew Brunette‘s part. When you go through an awful road trip and then proceed to lose two more at home in that kind of sickening fashion, it’s easy for things to completely come apart at the seams and your season suddenly goes into a tailspin.

“When we do the right things and things we talk about, when you have the puck, you’ll have some fun. The game swayed our way early.” -Andrew Brunette on Preds Having Fun, Per the Team’s Website

Brunette rallied his squad and kept them together. He’s made some bold lineups decisions including benching Evangelista for one game, and then the rookie sensation bounces back for a three-point game against the Blues.

Same goes for Philip Tomasino. He’s trusting the process as well and didn’t let the frustration of being benched for multiple games in a row affect his confidence. He stayed engaged and made the most of it when his number was called again after Cody Glass and Thomas Novak went to IR.

Tomasino is riding a four-game point streak in very limited ice time. He did have a season high 15:36 of ice time against the Blues and tallied an assist.

You need an influential and wise head coach to keep a roster from losing confidence after what this Predators team has already battled through in only 19 games. A lot of hockey left, and the Predators have made the gradual climb out of last place and now playing their best hockey to date.

The Goaltending Will Come Around for the Predators

What’s crazy is the Predators haven’t even hit their full potential yet because Juuse Saros has played way below his lofty expectations as a world class goalie who has Vezina Trophy capabilities.

Luckily, Kevin Lankinen has been simply clutch in his backup role for Saros. Lankinen has won his last three starts while surrendering just seven goals in those three wins. He’s outpacing Saros in save percentage by a .913 to Saros’ .894.

While we need Saros to get back to his normal self, it gives you a lot of optimism that once he does get back to form then just think how difficult the Predators could be to deal with? As their offense continues to evolve and special teams keeps improving, if Saros gets back to last season’s form then you’ve got a one-two punch of potent offense and elite goaltending.

Of course this is a lot of ifs, and the Predators will likely hit another rut at some point. The question is can they continue to get better just in time to hit their peak performance level once that grind for the postseason comes in February and March?

I’m extremely confident that the Predators can rally to make the postseason if Saros gets back to form while Lankinen provides steady backup duty.

There’s a lot to be pleased and impressed by despite the 9-10-0 overall record for the Nashville Predators. Give it time. They’re building something special, but it’s not going to come instantly. Enjoy the fun product Nashville Predators hockey is becoming.

Just like a gourmet chef has to tinker with the recipes for a while to get the right combination, the same is happening for the Nashville Predators right now. And before the 20th game.