Don’t look now, but the Nashville Predators have lost five straight. League-watchers may have spotted an odd trend coming out of #Smashville in the form of accruing losses, but the fifth loss – a Thursday jam against the Dallas Stars – made the problem clear.
Sure, there was good news with the returns of P.K. Subban and Viktor Arvidsson. The duo missed a combined 40 games and fired up the franchise with opportunities. Nashville pulled off a season-high 49 shots on goal against Dallas.
The problem? Stars goalie Anton Khudobin made a career-high 49 saves.
The performance put the netminder in some elite, Ben Scrivens-like company in the modern NHL, but it also emphasized some of the embryonic issues with Nashville.
First, the losing streak. Just as Ryan Hartman played in his 200th career game, the Predators seemed primed to win at last. They were returning home after an extended skid and they were hoping for a little holiday cheer.
But Nashville didn’t get it out of the Stars, dropping to 22-14-2. That puts them second in the Central Division and that’s all well and good but for the losing streak thing. And the scoring thing.
Defensively, they looked tough as expected on Thursday. The Preds didn’t allow the Stars a single high-danger chance in the first period and continued their reign as the league’s stingiest defensive squad, even with the loss.
But offensively, the tale is more complex.
The Predators failed to snag a shot on their first power play of the game (somehow) and their lack of overall goal-scoring is starting to show. They haven’t scored on the power play in nine of their last 10 games. Ryan Johansen leads the team in scoring with 31 points, but Filip Forsberg and Madison’s Craig Smith are the only two Preds with double-digit goals.
And now, Nashville is headed out on a long road trip after hosting the Rangers. Seven of their next eight are away games, which highlights a sticky 10-game road losing streak.
Still, are the Predators really in trouble? Every team goes through a slide now and then and every team can overcome. Luckily, Nashville is in a unique spot and can course correct in time to get out of this thing before it creates a real problem.