Troubling trends easy to spot in Predators' slow start

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 10:39pm

For the first time since they opened the season the Nashville Predators have a chance to stop and think.

They did not have a game Tuesday nor was one on the schedule for Wednesday.

That marked the first time since they opened with a shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 19 that their schedule included consecutive days without games. On top of that their first six contests took place in five different cities, which meant that if they were not playing chances are they were traveling.

Following a 4-0 loss at Phoenix on Monday, players and coaches actually have plenty to consider before they face the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday (9:30 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee).

For example:

• Through play on Monday, Nashville’s minus-8 goal differential was the worst in the Western Conference and tied for second-worst in the NHL.

• With the season-opening defeat against the Blue Jackets and another shootout loss to St. Louis two days later, the Predators are one of three teams that have yet to win a home game. They are 0-0-2, which — at least — is better than Pittsburgh and Toronto, which both are 0-2-0.

• Nashville has three overtime/shootout losses thus far (all shootouts), which is the most in the NHL. There have been 11 Western Conference games that have gone beyond regulation and the only other team with more than one overtime/shootout defeat was Vancouver, which was 1-2 in shootouts.

All of those are areas in which Nashville typically has excelled in recent seasons.

Consider:

• The Predators never have been one of the league’s most potent offensive teams yet last season they were plus-27 in goal differential, which was the fourth best in the West, and plus-26 the previous season. Opponents already have shut out Nashville twice, which already is one fewer than all of last season.

• Goalie Pekka Rinne entered the season 21-14 in shootouts for his career. He had stopped 75.9 percent of the shooters he faced. He has gone 0-3 this season (he never has lost more than five in a single season) and five of the 10 shooters (50 percent) he has faced, including three of the last four, have converted on him.

• From the start of the shootout era (2005-06) through last season, the Predators’ overtime/shootout record was 68-58, which means that 54 percent of the time they earned the extra point that was at stake.

Under normal circumstances the feeling would be that there was plenty of time to stem the tide. Yet the last time Nashville did not win more than one of its first six contests was 2002-03, and then it did not make the playoffs.

With this season limited to 48 games, courtesy of the league owners’ latest lockout, the margin for error is dramatically decreased.

The Predators might want to think how they get things turned around — and quickly.

2 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 1/30/13 at 5:17

I do not see the little early season downtick as anything 5o be alarmed about. They have a nice rent subsidy and 9,000 Davidson countians with gold heavyweight jerseys to cheer them on. Catfish are easy to come by and it is my unddrstanding that a teenage goalie from Brentwood called Pikka Rinnie to the fact that he was coming out too far on his shootout defense.

I think the LA Kings are done for.

By: 4gold on 1/31/13 at 9:46

Surprise surprise. The Predators cant score. AGAIN.
Keep signing those defensive players.

Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!