Nashville Predators 0, Columbus Blue Jackets 3: Letdown in Columbus

A bad time was had by all, but particularly by the team you wanted to win.

The Nashville Predators have been a mess lately. A loss to the lowly Detroit Red Wings and COVID-19 delays have only exacerbated concerns about a season that’s been looking increasingly lost. Did the Preds do anything to alleviate these anxieties? Nope. Let’s get into why.

First Period

The Nashville Predators actually looked quite good to start this game, flying around the ice and generally causing mayhem. The caveat? Every single shot taken from an uncontested opening was from the blue line. Matt Duchene makes a nice steal at the line and hands off to the speedy Rocco Grimaldi? Grimaldi’s only course of action with open ice in front of him is to, of course, rip the puck from the maximum distance with his noted all-world shot.

The Columbus Blue Jackets struggled to get anything going early and even took a penalty on a Viktor Arvidsson drive to the net (hey, that’s the first time I’ve heard that name in a while!), but the Predators were unable to do anything with the opportunity. Notably, Eeli Tolvanen was deployed on his strong side, rendering him less effective as a shooter, a decision clearly indicative of a coach “doing everything he can with a flawed roster.” Can you tell I’m irritated with that assertion?

Columbus got on the board with fifteen seconds remaining in the period off one of the dumbest bounces I’ve seen in recent months, because that’s just how this season is gonna go. The Predators largely did everything right and still got punched in the mouth. What a fun time.

Second Period

Things got even dumber right off the bat with the opening goal of the period. This became a “smile and wave” game after the linesman screened Juuse Saros to help put the Jackets up 2-0. Nice shot by Domi aside, that was pure bad luck.

The rest of this period was pretty par for the course. The Predators generated chances, they couldn’t finish, etc. I’m yawning just writing about it, so there’s not much more to say. I will throw in that Mark Borowiecki played some of his best hockey in a Nashville uniform. Besides him there wasn’t a single player who stood out.

Here begins my musings on line and pair combos. Why is John Hynes continuing to play Eeli Tolvanen and Matt Duchene in sub-optimal situations for both of them? Can we please stop acting like Erik Haula has been anything resembling good this year? While both lines have been slightly more effective in this game compared to the matchup against the Red Wings, I really can’t credit that to any chemistry or outstanding play; I think the Blue Jackets just kinda stink. Something to watch.

Third Period

I am so bored. Holy hell is this team dull. Every single possession is about as engaged as me folding my laundry. Gain the zone, get pressured, rim the puck around, oh look now the other team has it and I have a neat little pile of shirts. When did I make a cup of tea? Who cares, it’ll calm my simmering anger about how uninspired this performance has been.

The Predators played well in this game. They still lost because they cannot finish to save their lives. I don’t care if both of the goals against were flukes or if you won by the underlying process, this is a team with lesser roster talent that will likely be in a similar position to you and you laid an egg yet again. I’m sick of watching the hockey equivalent of plain tofu. Play the freaking kids and make being bad worth something. Give guys ice time. Please.

Columbus put the game away with an empty netter, ending Nashville’s suffering with a pillow suffocation rather than a brutal smack to the head. The lone standout in this game for me was Borocop, and even then he wasn't anything special; he had some big hits and made a few smart plays. It was a night of blocked shots, brainless offensive possessions and soul-sucking play by both teams. The Predators fall to the bottom of the Central Division with this loss and continue to look directionless.

Three Big Things

  1. As I said in my article earlier this week, I’m in favor of keeping John Hynes for the remainder of the season. My thinking on that front will change if he continues to bump younger players out of the lineup for no conceivable reason. Why was Yakov Trenin sitting in the press box tonight? Can you give me one good reason? Stuff like this is why I will never buy the whole “woe is Hynes” lunchpail that certain people seem intent on peddling.
  2. This team needs a shakeup, regardless of the direction that David Poile wants to take them in. I’ve never seen such a lifeless approach to the game in six straight periods. The lone flashes were Matt Duchene trying his damndest to carry the dead weight on his wings and Viktor Arvidsson’s two(!) notable plays in the first period. Is trading Mattias Ekholm the smartest move in the world? Given the rumors about the returns being a pair of second-round picks, I’d say no, but at this point simply making a change might be the right decision.
  3. The Predators look dead in the water, but I don’t consider them truly “sunk” as of yet. That moment will come if they get beaten by the Blue Jackets in the upcoming game. If the Preds lose both of these games, consider the season as close to over as you could get without a bottom-three finish being assured. This is a bad Columbus roster that’s not been playing good hockey lately; if Nashville can’t even get two points out of them, there’s not a lot of reason for hope.

Postgame Tunes

It’s time to get sad, but at least we can do so while listening to the soothing tones of Chris Stapleton. Take it away, man.

Goodnight, and as always, go Preds.