The Nashville Predators hit a franchise low in a 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers Monday. For the first time in team history, Nashville has been shutout for three consecutive games with the first two coming in 4-0 losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday and Minnesota Wild Saturday. It has been 213:47 since the Predators have lit the lamp last.
However, the way Nashville has been playing makes you wonder why they have been unable to score. It is not that the Predators have had a lack of scoring chances or puck possession. In the past three games combined, the Preds have outshot their opponents 93-64. They just cannot seem to finish on their opportunities.
One issue Nashville has dealt with lately is being undisciplined. Stemming back from a 7-0 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 14, the Predators have racked up 141 penalty minutes in just five games.
Nashville’s leading scorer James Neal ranks second in the league in minor penalties with 14 and is just one shy from tying leader Dustin Byfuglien. Veteran Mike Ribeiro leads the league in game misconducts with three after receiving a game misconduct in each of the past two games for jawing at the officials.
When two leaders are undisciplined, it begins a trickle-down effect.
The other problem the Predators have is a lack of offensive production come from their top-six forwards. It is a bad sign when the leading scorer is ranked tied-for-60th in the league in scoring.
Mike Fisher, Filip Forsberg and Ribeiro have all of two goals this season. Colin Wilson has only one. And Craig Smith has scored once in his past 15 games.
If the go-to scorers are not doing their job, it becomes hard to win.
Nashville was riding the fourth line prior to the losing streak, but the bottom-six can only carry a team for so long.
It is apparent the Predators need to make a move to acquire an additional scorer as soon as possible, but if general manager David Poile believes that is too hasty, they have a good shot at ending their scoreless streak Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres.