Nashville Predators on the Rollercoaster after Concerning Lopsided Loss to Hurricanes

Even if the Predators are ahead of schedule, they have yet to prove that they can make the jump to the top tier of NHL teams.

Dec 27, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators head coach Andrew Brunette talks with
Dec 27, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators head coach Andrew Brunette talks with / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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The frustrations and letdowns of an 82-game NHL schedule are fully apparent for the Nashville Predators right now as they're riding a two-game skid, and a lopsided loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.

There are no "breaks" during an NHL season. You have to bring your top level of performance every game, and the Predators are currently scrambling to recapture what led them to a 13-3-0 stretch from November to December.

The latest loss to the Stanley Cup caliber Hurricanes was close for awhile, but the Predators were always chasing the game. Whenever they got close, like Ryan O'Reilly's team-leading 9th power play goal of the season, the Hurricanes would respond.

Sebastian Aho, with four points in the game, put on an MVP type performance. It wasn't just him. The Hurricanes flexed their muscles in this one, getting revenge for their home loss to the Predators on December 15.

It was a concerning performance from Juuse Saros. After going on blazing hot streak, right in line with the team's string of success, Saros has now regressed considerably with starts below 80 percent save percentage twice in his last four games.

Predators are Going Through the Ups and Downs of an 82-Game Season

Head Coach Andrew Brunette faces a critical juncture in his first year leading the Predators. The season is taking shape, and the Predators are right in the middle of the playoff race. However, it can get away from them fast if they don't stop the bleeding in the next game.

Nothing really went right against the Hurricanes. The Predators were outskated, took bad penalties, Saros was unable to neutralize the mistakes, and the Hurricanes played like a team that can hoist a Stanley Cup in 2024. A horrendous combination for the Predators, and the final score of 5-2 illustrates that.

Some other concerning developments out of this game is of course the hit to Gustav Nyquist. He scored his 6th goal of the season, but collided with Andrei Svechnikov in the aftermath. The officials reviewed to see if it was a malicious intent, but came out with no penalty on the play.

Nyquist went down the tunnel but did return to the game. Good news there for the Predators as they rely on Nyquist to fill out there top line with O'Reilly and Filip Forsberg. You really don't want to be in search of a new top line this deep in the season.

Legitimate Reason to be Concerned for Preds Right Now?

You need team leaders to step up now to pull the Predators out of this rut. O'Reilly comes to mind first, and he was self-accountable about the quality of shots he put on net, per NHL.com.

" “Obviously, we’ve got to find a way to put the puck in the net a little bit better. We had some chances. Like I said, myself, I’m better than the shots I was putting on net there." Ryan O'Reilly"

Robby Stanley, NHL.com Correspondent

I honestly chalk this up as a measuring stick type of loss. It's humbling and makes you realize the Predators aren't quite there yet when it comes to consistently competing with the Stanley Cup caliber teams. They can occasionally go out there and play their best game and come out victorious against top notch opponents, and already did that in the previous matchup with the Hurricanes just two weeks ago.

Another concern that's really starting to bubble over is the struggling of Cody Glass. Quite frankly, he's been invisible out there with the exception of looking slow and taking some bad penalties. Much of that is shaking off rush from two stints on the IR, but he's had time to make a bigger impact on the game and it hasn't happened.

Glass was healthy scratched for two consecutive games but got back into the lineup against the Hurricanes. He only played in 11:24, took four penalty minutes and registered just one shot on goal. He has two points in 15 games after entering the season with top-six potential.

Another surprising healthy scratch, which has been a theme from Brunette, is Yakov Trenin. I've recently brought up the very real possibility that Trenin could be lost either through a trade or in offseason free agency due to the Predators having so many free agents to address.

Next up the Predators have a road back-to-back with trips to Detroit and Washington. If Kevin Lankinen isn't ready to return from illness then we could see Yaroslav Askarov make his 2nd career NHL start in one of these games.

Needless to say, the Predators badly need to reverse course and going on the road might allow them to get away from outside noise and play their best game.

NEXT: Predators Should Find a Way to Call-Up Egor Afanasyev Soon