The Nashville Predators handled the Toronto Maple Leafs, then dropped two in a row to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Winnipeg Jets. They picked up three points out of a possible six and can clinch their spot in the playoffs this week.
Against Pittsburgh: Ryan Ellis
Against Winnipeg: n/a
Against Pittsburgh: none
Against Winnipeg: n/a
What Happened (Toronto)
Brian Boyle notched a first-period goal thanks to a slot feed from Craig Smith. While the second period was controlled by Toronto, Wayne Simmonds grabbed his first goal as a Nashville Predator in the third period, and Filip Forsberg put the game away with an empty net goal.
What Happened (Pittsburgh)
Pittsburgh got on the board first and remained in the lead until Ryan Ellis banked a shot off of Matt Murray in the last five minutes to tie the game up. However, a shootout goal from Sidney Crosby clinched the victory for the Penguins and ended the Predators winning streak.
What Happened (Winnipeg)
Calle Jarnkrok tipped a goal past Connor Hellebyuck, but after nearly five minutes of review, the call was overturned. The Jets then pulled five goals out and lit Predator Twitter and Facebook on fire. It was pure domination after the first period was over.
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Some Stats For You
P.K. Subban hasn’t scored in seven games, Mattias Ekholm hasn’t scored in nine games, and Roman Josi hasn’t scored in five games. That needs to change.
Mikael Granlund and Wayne Simmonds have played 10 games with the Predators, and have combined for six points. That also needs to change.
Overall, the stats of the last three games are not great, because Nashville does not have a player with a hot stick right now. The power play isn’t working per usual, but what is something to mention is their record over the past ten games.
5-4-1 with losses to Anaheim, two to Winnipeg, a Pittsburgh shootout, and Carolina. The Predators have shown two teams in these last ten games: dominant, and scary to watch. When the Predators are clicking, all lines, including their top four defensemen, contribute somehow someway; when they’re not, they lose 5-0.
The Predators could potentially clinch a playoff berth before the week is over. The argument is they could have won the Central Division title, but in all honesty, making the playoffs is all that matters. Every game leading up to the playoffs is equally important, but “what could have been” is always a question asked.
Kyle Turris is a second line center who is not playing like a second line center; he has to start helping out offensively. Teams are aware of the JOFA line; they aren’t scared of any of the other lines.
Pekka Rinne is playing outstanding hockey right now, but the overall “team mentality” isn’t there. Rinne was left out to dry on multiple occasions against Winnipeg; he was the reason the score wasn’t 10-0, no question about it. Defensemen jumping into the attack is a core principle of Laviolette’s system, but trusting the forwards to do their job would allow the defensemen to do theirs.
Overall, the Predators are slowly but surely putting the pieces together. The Winnipeg game was extremely disappointing, but they are taking steps in the right direction. Keep in mind, once the team makes the playoffs, then the entire regular season becomes speculative. The leadership they possess in that locker room will be a driving factor.
The mentality of their Stanley Cup year was “just get in.” They are not coasting, they are trying to figure everything out. It might seem a little too late, but during that 2016/2017 season, they finished the last eleven games with a 5-5-1 record. Then that team won five straight and finished the playoffs with a 14-7-1 record.
Anything can happen. The regular season is all speculative.
–Jack Woods covers the Nashville Predators and the Central Division for PenaltyBoxRadio.com and FullPressCoverage.com. You can follow Jack on Twitter at @jack_woods15