The most frustrating part of being a Nashville Predators fan lately is the lack of a solution to the slow starts the team has seemingly accepted as the norm.
Saturday night was no different, as the Predators fell into an early 1-0 hole just 4:05 into the first period as they couldn’t recover before falling 4-2 to the Florida Panthers. A Panthers team that came into Bridgestone Arena with a sub-.500 record, by the way.
“Not good enough,” Predators center Nick Bonino said. “It’s easy to say not good enough, but a lot of our problems stem from our starts. We feel games out, we don’t compete enough right away and then we’re playing catch up. In this league, it’s too little too late sometimes.
To add insult to injury, the Predators were playing without leading scorer Ryan Johansen, who was suspended for two games for his hit on Winnipeg’s
Mark Scheifle. In Johansen’s absence, Calle Jarnkrok was thrust into the first-line center role. He didn’t do much to inspire.
“It’s a loss to a team that played last night and travelled and came into our building and took it to us for the first part of the game,” Predators forward Austin Watson said. “Yeah, we pushed at the end, but that start and the way we’re towing the water in back-to-back home games is not good enough.”
The first line suffered the most, as Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg combined for just five shots and a -5 rating. However, there was plenty of blame to go around elsewhere too.
The power play continued to struggle as the Preds went 0-for-4. In fact, Nashville is 0-for its last 21 power plays and have only converted on 23 power plays total this season.
In addition to the power play struggles, trying to comeback from a 3-0 deficit didn’t help matters either. So, this begs the question: how do the Preds fix what’s wrong?
“I think if we knew as a group, we’d do our best to not let it happen,” Watson said. “We’re trying to figure it out and hopefully soon.”
“It’s hard to say the solution,” Predators goaltender Juuse Saros added. “But we’ve just got to be ready from the start and keep it simple.”
With the All-Star game around the corner, the Predators have two more games before the break – both on the road – to right the ship before they really have to start worrying about running out of season to fix their issues.
“I think it’s important to fix (the problems) as soon as possible no matter what we have coming up,” Watson said. “Lingering a day or a week, I don’t know how much difference that makes. It sucks, it’s not fun for us to play this way, especially at home.
But the good thing is we play 82 games and we have a chance to bounce back before we take time off (for the All-Star break).”