The Week That Was: Chapter 22
A step forward, a big step back. The inconsistency continues.
One thing has been consistent about the Nashville Predators this season: their inconsistency. This team’s inability to put together a stretch of good hockey after their terrific 16-game start has become its hallmark.
It isn’t just putting together multiple games. It’s putting together multiple periods, and that problem reared its ugly head again this week.
Despite the madness, the Winnipeg Jets are playing just badly enough to keep the Predators in the Central Division title race. And although the St. Louis Blues are very much in the picture, their division hopes just took a big hit:
INJURY UPDATE: Vladimir Tarasenko has an upper-body injury and will be re-evaluated in 10 days. https://t.co/zYysiFv10v #stlblues— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 10, 2019
The schedule isn’t favorable for the Predators, either, as Winnipeg and St. Louis each has two games in hand on Nashville.
That last fact makes this week ultra-important for the Predators if they hope to defend their Central crown. It’s their final road trip of three games or longer this season, and two of them come against very bad teams in Anaheim and Los Angeles.
Nashville needs to refocus on this trip and get back to outworking teams. They haven’t done that lately. What was once a hallmark of this franchise has become anything but in recent memory. The Predators are letting teams outwork them for periods at a time and it’s costing them games hand over fist.
Forget the putrid power play for a bit and be the harder-working team. Lazy penalties (tripping the most problematic among them) are plaguing this team. Clean up the stuff that can easily be cleaned up and the power play problems aren’t as big of an issue. (Still bad, but can be overcome if that’s the only bugaboo at the moment.)
I wanted to suggest last week that Kyle Turris sit a game to hopefully get the message that he needs to pick it up. I think that maybe the demotion was indeed enough to do the trick.
Anyway, with some extra days off last week, it created a chance for the Predators to get some much-needed practice time in — but that didn’t completely manifest itself early on in Saturday’s contest.
On with it:
The Fast Money Round
Tuesday: Predators 5, Minnesota Wild 4 (shootout)
It was deja vu all over again in the shootout, but not before Kevin Fiala scored a couple of revenge goals in regulation.
Saturday: Carolina Hurricanes 5, Predators 3
They just can’t beat Carolina for some reason nowadays. An awful first period created a hole they were simply unable to climb all the way out of.
Player of the Week
I hope Brian Boyle sticks around next year. Like what he brings to the table from an experience and effort standpoint. He gets the nod this week with a goal on Saturday and an outstanding parking job (and power play tip-in that eventually got credited to him) on Tuesday.
Favorite Thing of the Week
I don’t know what’s better, the Scott Hartnell ceremonial faceoffs (also impressive when you consider Hartsy was holding his baby while the jostling was going on)...
Always give 110%.#Preds | #CARvsNSH pic.twitter.com/T3Lb1nHhIU— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) March 10, 2019
...or the glorious locks on display at the Minnesota high school state tournament...
The 2019 Minnesota All-Hockey Hair Team doesn’t disappoint https://t.co/lmQbnhvgP9— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) March 10, 2019
Suggestion of the Week
There are 12 games left in the regular season. Juuse Saros needs to start at least four of them. One this week, one next week, one in the last back-to-back on March 29 or 30, and one of the final three. It’d be even better if he got a fifth start in that stretch, too.
This week’s grade
Given that the Predators got three days between games, to start like they did in the first against Carolina is inexcusable. Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night in 2019 is not a tough place to play right now given the results since the new year. It had better get that way again to have any faith of a playoff series victory this spring. This week’s grade: C-
Who is the Player of the Week for Week 22?