Tough Love Works for Nashville Predators for At Least One Night in Pivotal Win

In a wildcard race showdown, the Preds knocked off the Blues to creep to two points back from a playoff spot after the team was called out by leadership.

Feb 17, 2024; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Nashville Predators right wing Luke Evangelista (77) is
Feb 17, 2024; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Nashville Predators right wing Luke Evangelista (77) is / Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports
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Head Coach Andrew Brunette hasn't minced words throughout his first year behind the bench for the Nashville Predators, and neither has General Manager Barry Trotz.

The Predators responded on Saturday night with a gutsy and hard-fought win over the St.Louis Blues in a game that was significant to the wildcard race. The Predators had to hang on for dear life in the final 10 minutes of the third period and rely on a classic Juuse Saros win with 35 saves for a sizzling .946 save percentage.

This team's effort, or lack thereof, has been called out several times throughout the course of this season, even pushing for leadership to cancel a planned trip to see U2 perform in concert in Las Vegas before the Predators take on the Golden Knights on Tuesday.

Predators Atone for Thursday's Beating by Defeating Blues 5-2

The team deserved every lump of criticism and harsh words it received after being embarrassed on home ice against the Dallas Stars to a 9-2 final score. Brunette doubled down on what he has been harping on all season with lack of focus, effort and understanding.

"“I think it can only be addressed so many times. Either we’re not taking it seriously enough, or we’re not understanding. The response and the mindset are really disappointing.”"

Robby Stanley, Preds Official Website

It's also concerning to hear you Captain, Roman Josi, says after the 9-2 drubbing that they need to find a way to "bottle it up and get motivated" for St. Louis. Well even though they did play much better and skate with more conviction, you shouldn't need losing by seven goals as a reason to get motivated 55 games into a season.

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With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Predators are in an all too familiar spot in the standings, in no man's land on the playoff bubble.

The offense also found its groove again with five total goals against the Blues; one an empty netter by Ryan O'Reilly, one coming from Luck Schenn's first with the Predators, and one coming via the power play from Filip Forsberg which made it 3-1 with just over 13 minutes left in regulation.

It was an impressive night for Luke Evangelista as well. Showcasing his speed to find a loose puck, he made an elusive move around Jordan Binnington to net his 10th goal of his rookie campaign. He scored seven in 24 games in his debut season.

Sure, it's always glorious to beat the Blues, but not sure if there's really anything this team can do between now and the March 8 trade deadline to change the overall perception of this team that it needs to sell, and sell heavy for the second year in a row.

The Predators have won both meetings against the Blues this season with a scoring margin of 13-5. They'll meet again on April 4 at Nashville.

Should the Trade Deadline Plans Already be Set?

The Predators have nine games remaining before the trade deadline arrives. Only three of those nine come against teams currently in a playoff spot, so on paper at least, the Predators could string together some wins and climb back into a playoff spot in the next week or two.

The more coveted 2024 free agents still haven't been addressed. The Predators have re-signed Cole Smith and Michael McCarron, but the higher priority skill players like Philip Tomasino, Tommy Novak and Alexandre Carrier remain on the trade block.

The fear of a lot of fans is the Predators are going to feast on some really bad teams coming up like the Blue Jackets, Senators and Ducks only to give a false sense of hope instead of doing what probably needs to be done, which is trade whoever you can including Saros.

Of course you can never go off what's on paper with this Predators team. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if they come out flat against Columbus or Anaheim and lose both of those games. And if that happens, that will be the final nail in what Trotz should already know he needs to do.

You do have to feel like it's a breath of fresh air to see Brunette and Trotz both be very candid when the team plays horribly. You can forgive mistakes because after all, these players are still human. But the lack of effort and drive in critical moments of games is inexcusable, and it has definitely been very clear in certain moments when leads are evaporated and the Predators leave empty handed in the standings.

Next. Saros Trade . Barry Trotz May Have Already Missed the Boat on Trading Juuse Saros. dark