There are few teams in the NHL that have experienced such extreme highs and lows this season as the Nashville Predators.
After a very rough start and several different healthy scratches, it seemed as though it would certainly be a big reset year for the relatively inexperienced and young team. But as we reached the quarter mark of the season, things have certainly taken a sharp turn for the better.
The Predators were holding a six game win streak during the last few weeks, including huge wins over the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, and Winnipeg Jets. Filip Forsberg seems to have finally found his scoring abilities again, Luke Evangelista recorded another four point night, Philip Tomasino looks like the hungry player we know he can be, and Juuse Saros had some wonderful performances that led to recognition from the NHL as one of the stars of the week.
The Predators were playing fast, smart, and has been seeing production from everyone on the team, including a dominant win over the St Louis Blues where 14 different players recorded at least one point.
Things have certainly been looking up for this team, but after a rough 6-1 loss against former head coach John Hynes and the Minnesota Wild, many fans have been questioning what exactly the expectations for this team should be, what their identity is, and what to expect from them during the December stretch.
Nashville Predators Win Streak Comes to a Screeching Halt
It is important to note that one bad game does not dictate how a team’s season is going to go. The six game win streak from the Preds and their dominating wins are proof that this team does have what it takes to possibly make the playoffs at the end of the season.
They went from second to last in the entire league to holding a wild card spot in just those six games, and there is still a lot of hockey remaining in the season.
One of the main points of emphasis between Head Coach Andrew Brunette and all of the players has been about what identity they want to have as a team. There have been several mentions about being “difficult to play against” and pesky on the ice. The team has certainly been accomplishing this, as they have been extremely frustrating for other teams to play against.
Although they were playing very solid games, their most recent one against the Minnesota Wild was far from clean. After a horrible hit from Kirill Kaprizov on Alex Carrier, things got quite out of hand for the Preds. They were rightfully upset about the hit, and started playing very emotionally against their opposition in hopes to defend their teammate who never returned to the game, and will most likely be out for quite some time.
After a failed offside challenge that led to a third goal, the game got away from the Predators, but they never really stopped fighting. Even though the bounces weren’t going their way, they still were putting up offensive pressure, and put up 27 shots to Minnesota’s 31.
No one player had a “bad night”, other than Luke Schenn who has looked far from good since his return to the lineup.
Bouncing Back from a Humbling Loss to the Wild
Something to note is the team’s reaction to Juuso Parssinen’s late goal in the third period of that same game. No one on the bench looked happy, and everyone’s reactions were very mild to the goal. This team is playing very emotionally, and it was telling by their facial expressions that they knew they weren’t playing up to the standards that they have set for themselves.
The team has proved that they are capable of winning difficult games and could be genuine contenders in the West if they continue to put in the work and play the way Brunette has been coaching them to play.
Losses like this are important for teams looking to find their identity, as it can show what they can do when facing adversity. The Predator’s next game against the New York Rangers will be their biggest test so far this season, as they are currently sitting at first in the NHL.
If the Preds can pull out a win against the Rangers, which would sweep the two-game season series with them, it will be very telling about just how successful Brunette has been with mentally and physically preparing his team for games like this.
This team definitely has a lot of confidence at the moment, but after hearing player interviews in the locker rooms, they still know they have a lot of work to do.
This is good news for fans as this kind of attitude and mindset in a locker room is usually very successful. If the team can move past this game and continue the momentum that they had during their last six games, we can expect great things from their production during the rest of the season.
It is also important to note that forwards Tommy Novak and Cody Glass are still out for the team, and were out during the team’s winning streak. When the two of them return to the lineup and the lines get more consistent, point production should also become more consistent.
There is certainly a lot to be proud of so far this season, with the new coaching style and playmaking, and there is a lot for all Predators fans to look forward to as we are officially past the quarter mark of 2023-24.