Game Preview: Nashville Predators @ Winnipeg Jets 12/15/2022

Well... swigs bottle of bourbon... let’s do this.

Three Things to Watch

  • Something has to Change... Right?/

Now look, I know you’re going to look at the above point and say “yeah, the coach and GM need to change” before chortling like an OTF Statler and Waldorf, and yes, that’s a conversation that’s worth having if things don’t turn around. But for THIS game, it’s more performance and strategy-based.

The Preds have lost four straight games, but it’s HOW they’ve lost that’s alarming. There’s been zero energy outside of a few players the past few games; the urgency and focus aren’t there, players are getting visibly frustrated early in games, and the players the Preds would normally count on for a bit of juice and intensity aren’t getting that job done.

At this point, a major shakeup might be needed just to get some juice back into the lineup. Maybe this is a drastic shuffling of the lines that puts some players in different roles, maybe it’s a few Milwaukee call-ups. Whatever it is, John Hynes needs to find some way to spark this team, because looking at the past few weeks, I’m starting to get some de ja vu from late 2019...

  • Can the Preds Find Scoring from ANYWHERE?/

The Predators’ offensive struggles are perplexing to say the least, because quite frankly, they’re not horrible in terms of the standard advanced metrics. And yet, they find themselves ranked 29th in the NHL in goals per game with 2.52, 29th in power play percentage at 15.2%, and 29th in team shooting percentage at 8.4%. It may have been naive  to think the Predators were going to get career-best seasons from half of their lineup yet again, but it’s safe to say we expected THIS much regression THIS fast.

Guys like Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, and Matt Duchene aren’t quite where they were last year, which is a problem, albeit a somewhat expected one. But another big issue is that certain players that were counted on to take a step forward this season haven’t done that either. Tanner Jeannot has just 3 goals and 3 assists in 26 games after hitting 24 goals and 41 points last year. Yakov Trenin has just 2 goals so far following his 17 goal season last year. Even Nino Niederreiter, despite currently leading the team in goals, hasn’t had quite the scoresheet-impact the Preds had hoped.

We can fantasy book the lineup with certain players from Milwaukee or another team like... I don’t know... the Seattle Kraken. But the players the Preds have NOW need to step up and re-find their games, and fast.

  • Can The Jets Continue to Fly?/

Meanwhile, Winnipeg is a strong contender for the NHL’s biggest surprise this season. They’re second place in the Central Division and first in terms of points percentage. It’s easy to look at Connor Hellebuyck’s season (14-7-1, .926 Save%, 3 SO) and think “oh yeah, this is a good goalie willing them to wins.” But a lot of players in front of Hellebuyck are having red-hot start to the seasons as well. Josh Morrissey’s 32 points are 3rd most among NHL defensemen, Mark Scheifele is 8th in the NHL in goals with 18, and three other players on the Jets (Kyle Connor, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Blake Wheeler) have at least 26 points.

The Preds can’t count on this being one of those vintage Jets matchups where a goalie and grinder battle paves the way for a gritty 2-1 or 3-2 game. The Jets have people who can score in bunches, and if the Preds’ defense doesn’t tighten up, this can be another long night.

How to Watch

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM CST
Place: Canada Life Centre - Winnipeg, MB
Radio: 102.5 The Game
Jets SB Nation Site: Arctic Ice Hockey