Can Nashville Avoid a Last-Minute Collapse?

Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The 2023-24 NHL season is in the final stretch, and any team that wants to make the Stanley Cup playoffs in a couple of weeks better stake their postseason claim right now. The Nashville Predators recently were the hottest team in all of the NHL, but this week, the balloon has burst, and a three-game losing streak has the Preds skating on proverbial thin ice at this point in early April.

Dropping critical games to Arizona, Colorado, and most recently, Boston shows that while the Predators recently made franchise history with their 18 point game streak, that streak is now completely over, and yes, Nashville now has to be thinking about how they can assure a Western Conference playoff spot. Despite all of the gloom and doom with the losing streak this week, Nashville still sits with 90 points in 75 games played and holds the first wild card spot in the West. However, dropping a potential for up to six additional points in the last three games has left the Preds only one point ahead of the Los Angeles Kings in the wild card race and six points ahead of the St. Louis Blues as the real remaining wild card threat. Nashville has exactly seven games left to get the job done or start watching the Stanley Cup playoffs from the comfort of their living rooms and hit the golf courses earlier than expected.

The Predators Need a Boost on Special Teams

One of the reasons that hockey special teams are called special is that it takes a special breed of player to make things happen. When an NHL team fails to fully utilize their power play and penalty kill units to their maximum potential, the wheels start falling off of any playoff run. For the Nashville Predators right now, special teams ranks generously as mediocre at best. With a power play conversion at 20.2% (20th in the NHL) and the penalty kill at a paltry 76.5% (26th), the Preds are playing on borrowed time and squandering away potential game-changing opportunities through stellar special teams play.

Nashville head coach Andrew Brunette is making a key change on the first power play unit this week by bringing in Luke Evangelista to bolster the man advantages gained each game. No, Evangelista isn’t a Connor McDavid-lightning speed skater who can dance around defensive units, but he does have two goals and four assists this season on the power play on top of his 13 goals and 14 assists when playing on even strength. Creating more firepower and taking full advantage of power play opportunities can be just the remedy the doctor ordered to help the Preds find some offense again, and with the Nashville seasonal goals for (242) and goals against (228) margin closing, this franchise needs to find a way, any way to score more goals and win a number of games for the remainder of the season. More concisely – score more goals, win more games, go to the postseason.

Mike Gambill

I'm a retired high school teacher and former coach who enjoys sports writing as a way of expressing my continued passion for the game. I try to bring a bit of a technical side to my articles, as well as keeping a bit of sarcastic humor alive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Will Don Sweeney Disappoint in Free Agency?

The Boston Bruins hired General Manager Don Sweeney on May 20, 2015. Sweeney has signed 216 players, drafted 54, and made 42 trades since that time. Bruins fans would probably like to forget about some of the draft picks (especially the 1st round in 2015) and some of the trades (Kirill Kaprizov for a 5th-round […]

Read More

NHL: Deaths of Two Russian Hockey Players Brings Heightened Awareness to Mental Health

Roman Zyryanov, an 18-year-old Russian hockey player, tragically took his own life earlier this week, marking the second such incident involving a young hockey player in recent weeks. Zyryanov participated in the Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod program for three seasons, spanning from U16 to U18. Regrettably, this is the second loss of a player within the […]

Read More

Stanley Cup Finals Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Florida Panthers Game 3 | 06/13/2024

That certainly wasn’t a polite Game 2. I think every neutral fan should agree that officiating was questionable on both ends of the ice in Game 2, and I’m being nice when I word it that way. Leon Draisaitl throws a hit on Aleksandar Barkov that actually resulted in a cross-check to the face. Barkov […]

Read More