Thanks to their 5-2 win over the the Ottawa Senators on Monday, the Predators have still not lost three or more consecutive games in regulation since October 15-21, 2016 when they started the 2016-17 campaign with a 1-3 record. According to On The Forecheck, they haven’t lost more than two in a row at home since March 2015.
That kind of consistency is extremely rare and hard to ignore. It’s also unprecedented for many of these Predators players.
“We had a pretty good team in Switzerland and won the championship one year in my third year pro,” said Roman Josi when asked if he had ever played on a team as consistent as this one. “But, especially this season, we’ve been playing really consistent. It’s huge. There’s so many games throughout the year, especially at home. You lose two in a row, you definitely don’t want to lose a third one at home. We love playing in front of our fans. It was a big win and a good reaction from us.”
After losing to the Calgary Flames in a tight near-comeback last Thursday and falling to the hapless Detroit Red Wings on Saturday in a grudge match, the Predators were on the brink of starting what could have been an ill-timed lengthy losing skid.
In response, the team came out firing with a power-play goal by Roman Josi just under 10 minutes into the first period. A few minutes later Viktor Arvidsson received a stunning between-the-legs pass from Ryan Johansen and buried the puck to put his team up 2-0.
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Despite some back-and-forth scoring late in the first and early in the second period, the Predators maintained a grasp on the game. Arvidsson’s second of the game at 10:00 of the second period put the Predators up 4-2 and firmly put the team in cruise control.
In a tight playoff race, the Predators know they can’t lose too many games in a row or they might slip up in the standings and be unable to recover.
“Every team is winning it feels like in our division, so we can’t afford, I mean, two in a row is even too much, definitely not three in a row,” forward Filip Forsberg said. “That would hurt you too much.”
Take the Chicago Blackhawks for example. The Blackhawks beat the Predators 2-1 at Bridgestone Arena on January 30. That put them within four points of being tied for a wild card playoff spot. Then they lost eight straight games to start the month of February before snapping the skid on Saturday. After Monday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings, they sit a whopping 13 points out of a playoff spot.
Meanwhile, the Predators have been on some mini-skids but kept tacking on points by taking games to overtime or a shootout. They are now atop the Central Division. When those mini-skids happen, the team can come together and fix things on the fly.
“I think we take pride in our game and we don’t like losing at all,” said forward Colton Sissons. “We have a great group of guys that come together and talk things through when we’re not playing well and we know what we have to do better, so we turn things around pretty quickly it seems.”
Head coach Peter Laviolette agreed with Sissons’ assessment and gave his players plenty of credit for being able to fix issues so quickly.
“I think it’s more of the attitude in the locker room,” he said. “There’s always adjustments that go on. Everybody’s got a job to do and in the end it’s the players that have to go out there and fight for something, fight for a win, fight not to lose three in a row or lose two in a row or fight to put wins together. Ultimately, all the credit goes to them.”
In the grand scheme of things, one win might not be enough to solve every issue that plagues the Predators, but it’s certainly a way to get that process started.
“I think we’ve got a lot of really good players on this team, and we all know when we’re not playing well and that has been the case for a little while,” Forsberg said. “This game was obviously a step in the right direction.”
The Predators will look to keep it rolling on a quick turnaround when they take on the Detroit Red Wings tomorrow night.