You don't win the Cup in October, but you can certainly lose it. In the last two games, the Nashville Predators have displayed the traits of a team that is destined to not even have an opportunity to play for the Cup. After beginning the season with two gritty wins and a 1-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres the Predators have completely fallen apart in their last two games.
Consider these scary numbers: the Predators have been outscored 12 -1 ( a 6-1 loss to Edmonton and a 6-0 shutout to Dallas) in the last two games; the Predators are the lowest goal scoring team in the NHL, with 5 goals scored in regulation and one shootout goal; a goal has not been scored by anyone other than the forwards on the top line (Mike Santorelli, a second line winger, scored the shoot out goal); and after five games, the Predators shooting percentage is 3.8% (no- that is not a typo).
In the past two games, defensive breakdowns have been abundant. The second D pairing of Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Klein are a combined -10 through five games. Defensive coverage has been eratic, and these breakdowns have led to numerous scoring chances from close in. Often, the Predator goalies are left defenseless (pun intended). In the Edmonton game, the Oilers scored four goals on their first nine shots. In the Dallas game, the Stars scored goals on their first three shots.
This Predator squad will win by playing tough defense and getting balanced scoring. Neither are happening. The result has been two embarrassing losses.
Is it time for the Predator nation to panic? Not yet. This team has to get back to playing within themselves- solid D and attack the net- and stop digging the early hole. The coaching staff has mixed the lines to try to improve chemistry and get better offensive production. This group has to have veteran leadership step up and take charge and stop this funk right now.
Warning signs are flashing and there is cause for concern. How will this team respond to these embarrassing losses? Will there be a return to sound, intense play? Will they show some heart?
This team is better than this. It is time to stop embarrassing yourself on the ice.