Ed.: If you missed the more optimistic take on the Predators’ season so far earlier this morning, check it out as well.
Folks, we’re 11 games in. 5-6-0. This is exactly who the Predators are. They’re the “cannot figure out the power play after nearly three seasons” team. They’re a team with missed potential, it seems. I don’t understand this current lineup and I haven’t been able to figure out Nashville’s trajectory for a while. I have to look twice at jersey numbers to remember who some of these players are, and trust me, I’m not a casual observer.
For a bit in early 2020, there was significant discussion about Nashville’s identity, especially when John Hynes was hired as the third head coach in franchise history. At this moment in February 2021, I’d like to argue that the Predators have no identity. They’re not “hard to play against,” they’re not a dangerous offensive team, they’re not hard-nosed or defensive-minded. They’re none of these things. They haven’t been anything definitive in years.
The Oxford Dictionary defines “consistent” as “unchanging in nature, standard, or effect over time.”
Well, for me, it seems like the Predators are consistently inconsistent. I don’t have the numbers to back up any of this data, but I’m sure that my intelligent statistically-minded friends here at OTF can pull data to reflect some of the thoughts I have below. Mostly, I’m pretty frustrated at the direction of this team.
What the heck is going on? What are these Predators? I’ve got a laundry list of thoughts. They’re scattered, but they reflect the opinions and frustrations I’ve seen and heard lately:
- Filip Forsberg, Nashville’s star forward, has 11 points in 11 games (6 goals, 5 assists). Forsberg has dealt with injuries in past seasons, perhaps putting the brakes on strong campaigns. Keep him healthy, please?
- It’s not worth lamenting Matt Duchene’s output since signing in July 2019 when you look at his pricey contract.
- The same goes for Ryan Johansen. While we see that Johansen hasn’t lost too many games due to injury (with the 2017 playoffs as an exception), he hasn’t been impactful in quite some time.
- Eeli Tolvanen on the third line is not optimal.
- It’s puzzling to see Mark Boroweicki healthy-scratched when he was acquired specifically to bolster the third defensive pairing. He has 29 penalty minutes.
- Luca Sbisa was acquired for some reason.
- That “youth movement” concept of summer 2020 was short-lived.
- I know there are many more curious things about this team...feel free to discuss below.
The list goes on. Is David Poile trying to re-create 2017’s “lightning in a bottle” by acquiring players similar to those who made an impact in that season’s playoffs? (Harry Zolnierczyk, Vernon Fiddler, Pontus Åberg?) Truth be told, it’s hard to determine exactly what David Poile is doing.
The “Central Division” in 2021 is a weird one. Many of us assumed Nashville would be somewhere in the middle. To me, however, it looks like Nashville is somewhere near the muddy bottom. They can’t kill a penalty, the power play continues to sputter, and they’ve been largely outplayed. We have yet to see a dominant game from the Predators, and I am not sure we will.
Maybe I’m wrong about this team. Maybe my hopes have been dashed far too many times. I see a barely-middling team of older players who are quickly aging past their primes. I see an average coach, players who never seem to reach their potential, and a front office that is trying to re-capture some magic combination of grit, flash, and guts. Don’t get me started on goaltending.
The Predators need a breath of fresh air. Perhaps that’s some fresh air in the front office. Maybe it’s in the locker room or behind the bench. Maybe that fresh air comes in the form of Nashville prospects who’ve been placed on the taxi squad or in the AHL. I don’t have a list of fixes to propose, but I’m sure I can come up with a few if I had the change. I’m merely commenting on Nashville’s lack of direction, mediocre personnel, and haphazard roster organization.
Inconsistent, stagnant, and nearly flatlining...that’s your 2021 Nashville Predators.