The Nashville Predators haven’t been a great team now that they’re back in the United States. Last night, they blew a multi-goal lead against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Was it turtling? You tell me.
One of the biggest issues casual fans have observed is Nashville taking too many penalties. I wouldn’t say the League’s best penalty kill can keep up with the number of times gold-clad hockey players have sat in the penalty box this season. Are the refs biased against the Predators? I think we’re past that. This, to me, appears to be sloppy hockey. Penalties kill any kind of momentum or effort with just a whistle.
Earlier this week, our very own Bryan tweeted this:
The final 3 minutes of a period can build or destroy momentum going into the break - or worse, a late-game lead.— Bryan Bastin (@BryanBastin) October 19, 2022
L.A.'s Matt Roy tied the game w/2:08 remaining - the 4th late-period goal #Smashville has given up in 5 ganes.
Last year they gave up 49, tied for 17th in the NHL pic.twitter.com/MUYgnymaoM
Allowing goals in the final minutes of a period can be demoralizing, and ultimately, it ruins momentum. As the legendary Terry Crisp used to say: goals in the first or last minute of the period can really make or break a game. Nashville has given up a few more late goals since Bryan tweeted this, and it’s very clear that these late goals have really broken the Predators. They’re a team looking around for answers.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that Nashville fans were happy with Phil Tomasino going to Milwaukee in the beginning of the season. It’s less about Tomasino’s development and more about players like Cole Smith and Michael McCarron continuing to get ice time. In my opinion, there’s guys down at Ford Ice Center on various beer league teams that could patch the fourth line better than Smith or McCarron. Their impact is truly terrible: Smith sat his happy self in the penalty box against the Kings for four minutes. I can’t think of a positive thing McCarron has done lately. Maybe my brain doesn’t work like it should when it comes to statistics, but it’s pretty clear in the “eye test” that some of the fourth line could use a trip to the Admirals.
Without taking too many thoughts from my friend Bryan, another point he made Thursday night was that Nashville lost the hitting battle: 28-15. You could tell by watching that the Predators were not engaged physically. Coach Hynes himself would likely say that last night’s game was not “playing to our identity.” It appeared to be a game where Nashville players wait for something to happen. Very few chances were created in the second half of the game, and without diving into more stats, I’m sure that’s not the way the Predators want to play. However, it’s the way they have been playing lately.
Whatever the underlying issue is, Nashville has to figure out a solution quickly. Losing four straight games since returning from Prague is not a great look for either the players or coaching staff. Did the Predators leave their identity in Czechia? Further, do we see any changes in the lineup soon?