I’m going to start this breakdown with an open question to Predators fans. I want an honest answer, a truly honest answer.
Do you see this getting better?
Here’s the thing. For the past three seasons, I’ve seen people gush about the Predators’ roster on paper. “They have so much talent.” “They just need one more piece.” “Just imagine how good this team can be when they finally put it all together.” “If they can just clean up [insert a variety of aspects of the game here], they’re really going to take off!”
It’s been three years. Nothing’s changed.
And there’s a lot of evidence showing it’s getting worse.
The Detroit Red Wings, who came into this game 3-10-2, outplayed the Nashville Predators in back-to-back games at Bridgestone Arena. Saturday’s 4-2 loss was a massacre. The Red Wings took control of the game from the opening puck drop and never looked back.
That’s the second-worst team points-wise in the NHL crushing the Predators on their home ice.
The loss puts the Predators at 6-9-0 this season. They’ve lost 9 of their last 13 games after starting the season 2-0. We’ve seen the line blender. We’ve heard about heated players-only meetings. We’ve seen players “pissed” regarding their play, vowing to do better.
It’s not working.
It hasn’t worked for three years.
So again, I ask you this: Do you see this getting better?
Because if not, change needs to happen, more than just player movement or line shuffling. You need to change the core of your organization.
The Red Wings struck first just five minutes into the game, courtesy of a great puck-handling play from Valtteri Filppula, who then fed Robby Fabbri for an easy goal to make it 1-0, Fabbri’s second in two games.
After another eight minutes of...nothing, Adam Erne snuck a fluttering backhand past Rinne to make it 2-0 Detroit. It appeared the puck deflected off Josi’s stick, which fooled Rinne. Still, likely one Rinne would have liked to have back.
The Predators did start to click a little better after the second goal. The Predators had a 3-on-1 break, but Jonathan Bernier stopped Forsberg’s shot. Then, right before the first intermission, Matt Duchene found himself all alone in front of the net, but Bernier shut the door once again.
We were hoping to see that late rush, combined with a power play, lead to a better start to the second period for Nashville. But alas... The Predators did not get their first shot on goal of the period until past the ten-minute mark. Unlike the first period, however, which saw a lack of shots but at least some decent rushes, the Preds just couldn’t get ANYTHING going to start the period. Every zone entry seemed to result in a lost puck or broken play.
There was one sequence that really summed up the state of Predators. Nashville wound up on the power play. One minute in, before they managed any solid chances, they got caught for a too many men penalty. This wasn’t one of those “line changes where one guy comes on the ice just a bit too early” calls, either—this was six players on the ice actively participating in the play. That’s inattentive coaching. That’s players not paying attention to the game. That’s inexcusable.
In a fitting end to the second, Luke Glendening snuck another backhander past Rinne to make it 3-0 Detroit. The play was the epitome of the night; It started with an offensive-zone turnover, saw Dante Fabbro turned inside-out, and finished with a shot—again—Rinne should have stopped. The second period ended with boos from the limited crowd.
Hynes started the third period with a goalie change, sending Juuse Saros out in Rinne’s stead. Saros rewarded that move with three good point-blank stops right as the period began. Even though Rinne (other than tonight) has looked solid this year, you’re going to want to have Juuse rolling.
To their credit, the Predators woke up in the third. We saw more off-puck movement, better cycling, and overall more life on the ice for the Predators.
Filip Forsberg finally got Nashville on the board just about eight minutes into the third, taking advantage of a puck off the skate off a Detroit defender to slip one past Bernier.
The Predators continued to push, but a questionable hit on Ryan Ellis led to an odd-man rush for Detroit, which saw Anthony Mantha snipe a great short past Saros to make it 4-1.
Rocco Grimaldi would answer back with just under two minutes left to make it 4-2. But at that point, it was too little, too late.