The month of November started off with a ton of promise for the Nashville Predators. Nashville was coming off of a solid opening month of October with great defense, timely scoring and good goaltending.
November started off the same way with a couple of seven-goal performances and were doing their best keeping pace with the red-hot Dallas Stars
However, a spate of injuries and an extended scoring drought derailed any momentum the Predators had. There’s now a ton of questions surrounding the team on whether or not they can keep pace with the amount of injuries and thin ranks at center.
I asked the Nashville fans how they did in the month of October, and I’ll ask them to grade the team for November.
Offense and Feistiness
The Predators were not only scoring goals at the start of the month, but they were also playing with a bit of an edge. Nashville was flying around the ice and making hits. They also wouldn’t be intimidated as it stood up to the Winnipeg Jets and routed the Jets in a penalty-filled affair.
Here’s video to how the whole affair started.
This picture pretty much sums up the “Old Tyme Hockey” that Nashville and Winnipeg played on that night.
That was the second of a pair of seven-goal games as the Predators won a wild game 7-5 over the Ottawa Senators. It looked like the continuation of a great first month.
Preds Prey-ing for Goals
However, Nashville would hit a wall as it was shutout four times during November. The Predators were blanked by the St. Louis Blues and then ran into a stretch of three straight games of being blanked.
Nashville did run into a trio of very good goalies in Sergei Bobrovsky, Devan Dubnyk and Henrik Lundqvist. The Predators also had a few one-goal outings as well. Nashville won’t usually light the world on fire with goals, but the trend is concerning,
Players like Filip Forsberg, Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson also had long goal slumps. (Forsberg and Wilson had double-digit goalless games.) The top-six was part of the reason why the Predators made the playoffs last season, and the lack of punch from the top two lines is reason for trouble.
Injuries a Center of Concern
The other issue that taxed Nashville later in the month was the amount of injuries the Predators took. Paul Gaustad was on the shelf twice during the month, and that taxed the already thin center ranks for Nashville.
Injuries also happened to Eric Nystrom, Miikka Salonaki, Carter Hutton and Gabriel Bourque. Th hurt payers were mostly depth and role players, but they all serve a purpose. Bourque is one of the better one-on-one penalty killers in the league, and his presence has been missed since his loss. Gaustad is the best faceoff man on the team, and anchors the fourth line and Nystrom has experience and is a good two-way player.
The injuries do take their toll and force the management to call up young and inexperienced players from the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals. They’ll gain playing time, but could be thrust into an unfavorable situation.
The month of December couldn’t have arrived soon enough for the Predators. Injuries were a factor later on, but one thing is certain and that’s the fact Nashville may have to make a move to address their center problems. The injury to Mike Fisher early in December really hamstrings the team and could tax them even more.
All in all, November will be a month Predators fans may not want to remember.
Dan Mount is a Nashville Predators staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter, @DanMountSports.