After a nice start, the Nashville Predators dropped their last two games. First, to the Arizona Coyotes in regulation and then the Florida Panthers in a shootout. The issues with the offense will likely be fixed when Filip Forsberg returns to the lineup.
What Happened (Arizona)
Arizona dominated the game from start to finish. Through three periods of play, they produced 16 high danger chances while allowing only eight, and dominated in terms of total shot attempts and scoring chances. The Predators were able to limit the damage in the second period, where they gave up nine high danger chances. Arizona’s 57.28 xGF% and five goals were more than Nashville could handle. Overall, Nashville could not sustain any type of pressure in the offensive zone and played the boards for the majority of the night. Arizona capitalized on three power plays out of six chances which turned out to be the biggest difference. The Coyotes ran with a two-goal lead the obtained in the first period, and Nashville was never able to recover. Phil Kessel notched his first two goals as a Coyote against Nashville, and the Coyotes moved to 3-5-1 while the Predators dropped to 4-3-0.
What Happened (Florida)
Nashville’s numbers against Florida looked pretty solid, but they could not find any consistent offensive rhythm. The Predators gave the Panthers a headache when they were in the offensive zone, but the teams traded possession in the neutral zone for the majority of the game. The Panthers were outplayed in shot attempts, but they blocked shots and solved Pekka Rinne at a defining moment in the game. Florida grabbed two goals in the second period, but Roman Josi and Kyle Turris helped push the game past 60 minutes. Although the Panthers produced more high danger chances in the third period, Nashville was able to score when it mattered. The Predators’ penalty kill allowed another goal, but the power play produced. Ultimately, Nashville could not capitalize on their last power play of the night, and they lost in a shootout.
Notable Players (or lack thereof)
Kyle Turris has netted two goals and contributed two primary assists in the last two games. Additionally, Turris has six points in eight games with inconsistent, and up until Nashville’s matchup against Florida, ineffective linemates. While he will likely be shuffled into the bottom six once Forsberg returns from injury, Turris’s offense has been a blessing to the Predators.
With the way Turris played with Mikael Granlund and Matt Duchene, the Predators would benefit placing him with Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson. Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons, and Craig Smith would make an effective third line.
Viktor Arvidsson and Craig Smith are not getting the puck on open ice, so bad angle shots and relatively low production isn’t a surprise. If these two players found some space on the ice to operate, their numbers would increase. Arvidsson’s numbers are especially disheartening because he’s not generating enough scoring chances to be effective (26 chances for compared to 29 chances allowed). Five points seems pretty low for the likes of Arvidsson, and one point for Smith is extremely alarming.
Pekka Rinne increased his save percentage to a solid .913% with 28 saves against the Panthers. He’s been the better goalie through eight games, but Saros has not played well at all. Nashville has to play better transition hockey in order to limit the amount of high danger chances he sees per 60 minutes, as he sees almost six high danger chances per game.
Ryan Ellis has recorded six assists in the last three games. Over the course of eight games, Ellis has started in the offensive zone 42.86% of his time on the ice yet still maintains a 55.95 CF%, 58.06 GF%, 54.55 SCF%, and a 57.14 HDGF%. Ellis is making smooth zone transitions and finding ways to leave the defensive zone and stay in the offensive zone. He currently leads the team with 11 points.
Nashville will close their mini homestand against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday and the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. Puck drop is at 7pmCST.