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Dropping their 7th in 9 games, Nashville needs answers now


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Nashville dropped their 7th game in their last 9 tonight, this time a 5-1 decision against the Los Angeles Kings. In 5 of those 9 games, Nashville has given up 4+ goals to the opposition while being held to 1 goal or less in 5 of those as well. Tonight’s game was a bit of a different animal though.

Nashville came into the Staples Center after dropping a tough 2-1 decision to the San Jose Sharks only two nights prior. Line-juggling and tougher practices later, the Predators started out the game with a bit of a fire underneath them, which slowly tapered off as the period progressed. However, a 0-0 score at the end of the first played more in the favor of the Kings, who survived an 3 great early scoring chances from Nashville and produced a few of their own in the final moments.

Yet, the wheels began to wobble in the second period, before eventually falling off in the third.

Jeff Carter tallied his first of three goals only 5:28 in the second on what looked to be a pass deflected off Rinne’s pads and in the net during a Los Angeles powerplay. This would be only the start as the floodgates opened in the third, seeing Carter score his final two in the span of 19 seconds (the second natural hat trick the Predators have allowed in the past three games) with King and Richards getting on the board as well.

One of the few bright spots? Gabriel Bourque, who scored his 6th goal of the season which now puts him atop the Predators statsheet for goals on the season. It would also be the second goal in two games that Bourque has scored. He is the ONLY Predators player that has scored over the past two games.

What’s unfortunate is that nothing seems to be working right now in terms of any adjustments and changes the Predators are making for each game. Line juggling, healthy scratches, focusing on fundamentals, anything and everything that is being attempted by the coaching staff doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference right now.

So the question now comes to this: is the message falling on deaf ears?

It’s a question that has to be asked sooner or later and after another game like tonight’s outing against Los Angeles, it’s becoming much more of a prevalent and glaring issue. If you attend practices, you see the changes being made and the focuses being placed on problem areas, however the Predators are experiencing the same problems night in and night out while only outright winning 4 games this season without the necessity of overtime or a shootout.

Losing 7 of 9 games isn’t where the problem lies, it’s more about how those games were lost. In their last 5 losses (which have come over the span of 6 games), Nashville has been outscored 17-3. Is this Rinne’s fault? Definitely not. While some of the goals let in are a bit troublesome, at the same time there have been obvious lapses in defensive coverage that have allowed the scoring chance to be created that led to the goal in the first place.

Where’s Nashville’s offense? The scoring by committee approach has worked for the past 4 or 5 years, however this season it has been strangely absent. The 3rd and 4th line grinders who surprisingly overachieve are no longer overachieving. The stable top 6 veterans aren’t even averaging their usual point totals. Regardless if the season is condensed to 48 games or not, the output just hasn’t been there.

Yes, there have been flashes of offense here and there. Yet the Predators have only scored 3 or more goals in 8 of their 23 games this season, posting a record of 6-1-1 in those 8. The other 15? Nashville’s record is 3-8-4 when posting less than 3 goals. It’s the norm for Nashville and it has been that way for quite some time: score three goals and it’s nearly a lock for a win (note: I said NEARLY, not guaranteed). However, those goals have to come from somewhere and they’re not being generated right now.

Will a trade for a true goal scorer be a difference maker for the Predators? Possibly, but at what price will it cost them? How much will they have to give up to pull a 30-40 goal scorer, a 70-80 point contributor from one of the other 29 teams around the league? Nashville’s cupboard is getting close to the bare limits except for some of the blue chip prospects they have in Milwaukee and that are playing on the active roster right now.

In the end, though, the solution remains the same. Something has to be done very quickly as Nashville’s boat is quickly taking on water. Without major changes to right the ship, there could be a bit more than player personnel adjustments in the near future.