The Nashville Predators are only 5 games away from the mid mark on their season. It’s been a year full of ups and downs so far. The Predators have already produced two different 4 game losing streaks on the low-end, while recently having a five game winning streak. They now sit at 18-14-4 and are 8th in the Western Conference. For all they have been through so far this year, they are fairly fortunate to be in as good of place as they are. The offense has flat lined many times this season. Even more shocking is that through 36 games, the Predators have allowed as many goals as the Chicago Blackhawks. Given the goalie situation in Chicago with Cory Crawford and Ray Emery, and their lack of consistency, it’s alarming to consider them no worse than Pekka Rinne and the rarely started Anders Lindback. The facts, however, are what they are, as each team has allowed 103 goals. The remaining 5 games before the half way mark will help decide more about just who the Nashville Predators are.
The next 5 games for the Predators include four games at home and three games against current playoff teams. Home ice has been good to Smashville, as of late, winning five out of the last six at home. Prior to that, the Predators were abysmal at home. Prior to the 6 game run, Nashville was 4-5-3 at home. Even after Monday’s loss to the Red Wings, the Predators still play 6 out of their next 8 at home. Protecting their home ice will be crucial, as Nashville cannot allow themselves another extended losing streak, especially while playing at home.
In actuality, Nashville needs to stop losing streaks all together. As noted above, the team already has 2 different 4 game losing streaks and is in the throes of losing 3 out of their last 4. Conversely, outside of the recent 5 game winning streak, the most wins Nashville has been able to put together in a row has been 2. The team has to find ways to stop the bleeding when it starts and not allow such extended periods of losing games. All has not been lost during the recent skid, as Rinne has been uncharacteristically off. While he has struggled, the offense has improved. They’ve out shot all 3 of their last opponents (Columbus, Detroit and Dallas) and putting the puck on net should lead to good things. Staying the course and being offensive conscious will result in more goals per game.
I also noted above that the Predators play 3 playoff teams in their next 5 games. While Calgary and Carolina at home have to be wins, Nashville needs the grit it showed in mid December against St. Louis and Detroit (both wins) against Minnesota, Dallas and St. Louis. One of the keys is going to be reducing the number of giveaways. The most recent 3 games the Predators have played have them still giving away the puck, on average, over 9 times a game. Puck control and possession can help lift up a goalie while they are struggling in net.
The lows in the first half of Nashville’s season have been much uglier than most of the highs being pretty. They do sit 8th in the playoff seeding and have an opportunity to finish the first half of the season on a high note. The current Nashville Predators continue to be gritty, fight back from the abyss, and claw out victories when they need them the most. This type of determination will be a real asset when things go better for them. Until then, Nashville must continue to make its own luck. The easiest way to make their own luck is do all the little things, such as puck control, win the face offs (as they have been), and keep firing on net. Protect home ice and set sail for the 2nd half of the season.