Tuesday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues dropped the Nashville Predators to a 0-6 record when the game is decided in overtime this season.
Three-on-three overtime has generally been welcomed with open arms throughout the league. Statistically, three-on-three overtime is doing exactly what the NHL had hoped for — decreasing the amount of games decided in a shootout.
Though Nashville has not been one of the best teams in the league in shootouts in recent years, the new overtime format is certainly not doing them any favors, either.
It is not that the Predators lack the talent to play in three-on-three situations. Arguably, the Preds have better talent than the Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers, which are two teams Nashville lost to in overtime.
Nashville has three forwards with over 20 points in Filip Forsberg, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro. Also, the Predators have a plethora of capable blueliners. Roman Josi and Shea Weber lead the team in points with 29 and 26, respectively, and Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Seth Jones are each excellent skaters with a nose for offense.
There is not a lack of talent. Rather, there is a lack of execution.
Nashville has been outshot 20-6 in overtime. Also, according to War-on-Ice.com, the Predators rank last in the NHL in corsi-for-percentage (shot attempt differential) in three-on-three situations.
Seth Jones on why the Predators struggle at 3-on-3: “I think we force things a lot and it comes back to bite us.”
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) December 30, 2015
Another reason Nashville has not seen success in overtime is that they are simply not prepared for it. The Predators hardly ever practice three-on-three situations.
“In training camp, we did some three-on-three stuff to get used to it, but we haven’t since,” said Predators captain Weber on Dec. 15. “I’m not sure, obviously those are big extra points. We got to find a way to win these games.”
Two seasons ago, the Predators missed out on a playoff spot by three points. Among the reasons for their postseason absence was their lack of success in shootouts, going 2-9. In a unforgiving Central Division that will likely leave a deserving team out of the playoffs because of the current format, getting one point instead of two will prove to be costly.
With a little over half the season remaining, Nashville is sure to run into a few more overtime games.
And they ought to be prepared.
Colin Fitts is a Nashville Predators staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow Colin on Twitter, @FittsTHW, and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.