Groundhog Day was anything but for the Nashville Predators, as they posted perhaps their biggest win of the season, knocking the San Jose Sharks from the ranks of the unbeatens. Preceding this was another quality win over the defending Stanley Cup Champions on Thursday. Both games were decided in the shootout, improving their record to 2-3 in the tiebreaker.
Both games also featured only one goal in regulation.
For a team that averages the fewest goals per game in the league, those types of victories are going to be the exception to the rule. On Thursday, NHL Network’s Dan Rosen called Nashville “not a playoff team”. It’s still too early to make that kind of declaration–for any team–but the Predators desperately need to replace the injured Patric Hornqvist if they want to have sustained success.
One opportunity already gone by the wayside could have been Zach Boychuk, recently waived by the Carolina Hurricanes. Boychuk is a former 14th overall pick who was off to a hot start for the Charlotte Checkers during the lockout, but could not put it together at the NHL level. It would have been a perfect low risk, high reward gamble. Ultimately it was the Pittsburgh Penguins who gave Boychuk the chance, pairing him with James Neal and Evgeni Malkin.
Whether Nashville looks to the waiver wire or makes a game-changing trade, something has to give. Despite winning two times in three games last week, the Predators only scored twice, getting blanked by the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday.
Tuesday after that game goaltender Chris Mason went on 104.5 Midday 180 and reinforced the optimism that the team still shares, “I’m not worried about this team at all. Every player in that room believes this team has the ability and opportunity to win the Stanley Cup.”
Though the offense has struggled, Nashville is actually off to a better start than last year’s 104 point finish. They did not win the Stanley Cup last year, but they finally overcame a hurdle that has halted them twice–defeating the Detroit Red Wings in a playoff series.
Last year’s team also featured a top 10 scoring offense. This one isn’t as prolific.
It’s time for players like Colin Wilson–the 7th overall selection in 2008–to make a difference on the scoresheet. Even though he missed 14 games last year, he still made strides over his rookie season. This year, however, has seen him off to a slow start with only two points in eight games. For a team that’s already struggling to score–one or fewer goals in half of their games–a poor season from young talent could be disastrous.
Holding the best team in the league and the 4th best offense to one goal was impressive, but the team has to find it’s scoring touch to avoid a disappointing finish.