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Enough is enough. The Nashville Predators need a roster shake up…

BANNER - Media Availability Day - Poile (6-21-11)

In their last six games, the Nashville Predators have scored seven goals. Five of those having come in one game. In their three contests between February 9 and 12, they scored a mere two. And they tallied just two others in their three games between January 24 and 28.

As you can see, this is not just an isolated incident.

When your goaltender has a 2.10 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage, you shouldn’t be 9-8-5. But that’s what the Predators are. They have a back-to-back Vezina Trophy finalist between the pipes in Pekka Rinne and have allowed the fifth fewest goals in the Western Conference, yet they sit on the bubble of making the playoffs all because they can’t find the back of the net.

Sure, they had those three games in February where they tallied five (twice) and six goals but that was the exception, not the rule. And they weren’t in consecutive games either. Nashville has been shutout five times already this season and they’ve only taken the ice 22 times. Add that to the four games in which they’ve scored only once and the Predators have failed to score at least two goals in nearly 41% of their games.

Simply put, they can’t score with any kind of consistency.

The team in gold has the worst goals-per-game average in the NHL (2.00), the fewest shots-per-game (24.1) and only the Minnesota Wild have scored less times (but they’ve played two less games). In addition, the Preds have just two players with double-digit points while, for contrast, the St. Louis Blues have 10 such players.

There’s certainly enough talent on this roster to get on the scoreboard every night. After all, this is basically the same team (minus Ryan Suter and the late-season additions of Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov) that posted the best power play and eighth-best offense in the NHL last year. But, for whatever reason, things just aren’t clicking during the 2013 lockout-shortened campaign. And, if they want to make the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years, that needs to change. Fast.

There are 26 games remaining on the schedule and 15 until the trade deadline. There’s still plenty of time to right the ship. The problem Nashville faces is that they’ve shown very little promise in doing so. If they were playing amazing hockey and just getting bad bounces that would be one thing. But this is a team who has looked uninspired at times (see: this past Wednesday vs. Anaheim), unmotivated at others (see: January 24 vs. St. Louis) and having ventured away from their defensive identity in others (see: February 18 vs. Colorado and February 25 vs. Dallas). The lack of offensive production has forced them to over-think on the ice and, as a result, they just don’t have any swagger.

Coaching is not the issue and, quite frankly, it’s impossible to imagine the Predators organization without Barry Trotz at the helm so let’s rule out a coach firing immediately. He’s done a tremendous job with what he’s been given year-in and year-out since the team’s inception in 1998 and has guided this franchise to numerous playoff appearances when fellow expansion clubs like Atlanta/Winnipeg and Columbus have yet to win a playoff game during their entire existence.

Which brings us to the next best option: shake up the roster.

Just as a coach does when his team isn’t playing well in front of his goaltender, he’ll make a change to shake things up. More often than not — especially when the goalie wasn’t at fault for the poor start — the team responds. General Manager David Poile needs to make a move that will, hopefully, warrant the same kind of response.

When he brought in Hal Gill, Paul Gaustad, Radulov and the elder Kostitsyn around trade deadline time last year, there were many who accused him of “messing with the team’s chemistry.” The Predators were challenging the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings for the Central Division crown and adding not one, not two but four players for the home stretch and playoff run was risky. It would mean some guys who have put in their time all season long would have to sit. Others would have to rotate in and out of the lineup. All would have to understand and put their ego’s aside for the good of the team. Fortunately for Nashville, they did just that and the 2012 Predators finished strong, barely missing a beat.

Well, this situation is the opposite of that.

The 2013 Predators aren’t playing well at all and are too inconsistent to ruin any chemistry. Therefore, worst case scenario, they make a couple moves to shake up the roster and they don’t make the playoffs anyway. Nobody will complain that Poile should have “left the team as-is back in March.”

Best case scenario, it wakes everybody up and they can re-discover their scoring touch from a season ago.

Again, this roster is too talented on paper to be this dormant offensively. Does it boast any superstars? No. Does it even boast a 30-goal scorer (in a full year)? Probably not. But it does have the capability of a balanced attack. With 50-point guys such as Martin Erat, Mike Fisher, Sergei Kostitsyn, captain Shea Weber and David Legwand as well as 40-point players like Patric Hornqvist and Colin Wilson, this team has the potential to roll three lines and be able to score at any moment. From the aforementioned names, only Weber and Wilson have pulled their weight this year and Nashville needs the others to step it up. Heck, even fourth liner Matt Halischuk had 15 goals and 28 points last year. Where’d his production go? He has just one point in 2013.

Something just isn’t right and Poile and the Preds need to address it before it’s too late. And we’re coming up on too late.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover // section303.com

18 Comments

  1. taelor

    March 3, 2013 at 1:53 am

    I’m sure there are plenty of kids up in Milwaukee that would love to get a chance to showcase their talent. Beck, Watson, or my personal favorite (just because of the name) Bang. Any of those guys would give us just the adrenaline jolt we need. And maybe wake some other guys up to know, they can be replaced if they aren’t playing 100%.

  2. LJA

    March 3, 2013 at 7:22 am

    This runs deeper than AK & Rads. Combine losing players like Smithson, Ward, Tootoo, etc. and replacing them with Blum, Hannan and Clune, and a scoring drought ensues! I admit that Hannan and Clune are starting to find their place on the team but that doesn’t relate to scoring. Bourque is the bright spot on the team and I believe we need more speed and agree Beck, and Watson and even Bartley should be givien some opportunities!

  3. Don

    March 3, 2013 at 7:27 am

    The Preds got overachievement from most of their forwards last year. This year, the players have come back to their normal scoring range. Some have even fallen below their mean.

    I’m in total agreement that a trade needs to be made. The Preds need at least one go-to goal scorer who is looked upon to get a goal when the team needs it. Our best forwards are 2nd or 3rd line guys on most teams. This team badly needs forwards who can score at nearly a point-per-game pace.

    If nothing changes, the Preds will either not qualify for the playoffs, or be gone in the first round. Trotz can’t be blamed for the lack of scoring; Poile and the scouts need to do a better job of stocking this team with guys who can put the puck in the net, not the opposing goalie’s chest.

  4. Dave Gutzman

    March 3, 2013 at 8:08 am

    I am tired of people thinking that Legwand, Fisher, and Erat need to step up to their scoring ability. All three are playing one line higher then they should at this stage in their career. We can try to blame the veterans all we want, but the truth is, we don’t any player who is truly worthy of playing on the first line. Colin Wilson might be worthy of 1st line status, but not if we had real talent on our team. WIlson has15 points. There are currently 65 player in the league with more points then Wilson. That means on average, there are at least 2 other players on every other team better then any player we have. Wilson has 5 goals. There are currently 95 player with more goal WIlson. Wilson is our top scoring forward both in points and goals. That means there are at least 3 players on every team that are better then what we have. The problem is that Poile has tinkered with the lineup for years, but hasn’t done anything to bring in talent for our 1st line. And now we are a year older and a year slower and it shows. If we had a true first line and pushed everyone back a line, it wouldn’t make our 3rd and 4th lines look so weak. However, as long as Leggy, Fisher, and Erat have no trade clauses, we are stuck with them. Our best bet would be to trade them to a contending team looking for depth and get some draft picks and rebuild. But we can’t even do that.

  5. Dave Gutzman

    March 3, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Here are the players that Poile needs to unload. Spaling, Blum, Halischuk, and 1 of (Erat, Leggy, or Fisher). As an organization, if our goal is the Stanley Cup, then we have 1 question we need to ask…Is this team able to make it to the SCF? The answer is no. So in that case, we become sellers, not buyers. If we don’t have the team to make the finals, we retool until we do. We need to unload our average performance, and build up from our top end talent. Here is our talent potential right now: Rinne, Weber, Josi, Ellis, Bourque, and WIlson. Everyone else should be available to trade. Worst case, we get draft picks and bring up some of our AHL talent and get an early look at what they can do. It’s not like we could score any less? We might give up some more goals, but that would be worth it to see what our young talent can do.

  6. Steve

    March 3, 2013 at 10:01 am

    If we couldn’t get past the first round of the playoffs when guys like Legwand and Erat were under 30 what makes us think things are better as they both start to age (over 30) and slow down? Fisher is the best of the 3. Other than Pekka, Weber, Josi, Ellis, Klein, Bourque, Wilson and probably Fisher our roster blows.

  7. Jason

    March 3, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I have a feeling Poile stays pat this season. This is a shortened season and he probably feels it’s not worth it to blow up the roster just for a short season. But this offseason he has some major roster analysis to do. Leggy and Kostitsyn have been terrible…

  8. Scott

    March 3, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    SK74 and Blum need to go.

  9. Howard

    March 3, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Been a season ticket holder and a follower since day one. The problem is not necessarily the players. For the past several years I have thought that a coaching change is needed. The players are coached to be defensive minded first and score second. There have been some very good offensive players brought in that for some reason stopped contributing offensively. With the present coaching staff I don’t believe they will ever get better. The moves they made at the end of last year going into the playoffs was rediculous and tore the team apart. I would have gotten rid of Poile after that sweet move.

  10. Howard

    March 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Smith needs to stay, he has some upside as does Klien who I think is a better blue liner than Weber.

    • Marilyn

      March 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      At lease Weber has never given the other team a goal like Klein has so many times….

      • Howard

        March 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm

        I’ve seen Weber screw up plenty. While I like Weber, I just keep thinking how many good players we could have added with his salary. All we do is keep rebuilding. Anyways, Klien is an above average defensmen and the more he gets to play the better he’ll become. He is just another player that Trots screwed with.

    • Smashville98

      March 4, 2013 at 1:45 am

      I have to disagree with you on the Klein comment Howard. Every time I see Klein or Blum on the ice I get a sick feeling in my stomach. I can honestly say that this D-Men pairing has to be the worst in Preds history. Klein gives up the puck more than any other player in Preds history including Legwand or Tootoo… And that says a lot.

  11. Smashville98

    March 4, 2013 at 2:03 am

    To The Writer:

    You make very good points about about the line shake up. I do believe we need a re-tooling of our line to stay competitive and to keep players on their toes. However, I must disagree with the coaching comment. The Barry Trotz “Predator Style” hockey will not work in this league. The dump and chase method is a absolute killer for our young players and for this team. While I do believe a great defense is needed, the “Pred Style” is based on another team messing up and us capitalizing on it. In the 15 years as a franchise, we have yet to get out of the 2nd round and only recently have been to the 2nd round (the past 2 years). We can blame the players all we want but in the end, the coaches set the lineups and how the team practices. They are as much to blame for this if not more than the players.

    While some of this can be blamed on the whole “move the team” years, no other coach in the NHL would still be with that organization with these kind of results. David Poile is to fault for this as well because he is loyal to his coaches and players (Suter debacle). However, in a business, you have to put those feelings aside and do whats best for the organization and that’s win. While I do not see us getting rid of Trotz anytime soon, i think we as a organization will not be able to move on with this current coaching staff and this style of hockey.

    Just my 2 cents…

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  13. Terry

    March 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    I’m sick of the “Predator Style Hockey” too! Could we at least try to carry the puck into the zone, make passes intended for for tape instead of playing the puck deep or toward the general area of another player or where that player should be. It just appears there’s no plan on offense other than hustle. Hustle is great. I love playing hard, but what’s wrong with having a plan of attack instead of a practice of getting the puck deep and fighting for it. You watch the Hawks, Penguins, Wings, Ducks, and others. They have set plays that look beautiful. Even if they don’t score on those, at least it’s entertaining to watch. I love seeing the Predators score, but when they’re not scoring it’s because they’re not even creating chances. I agree with the coaching change and a roster shake up. There are some quality top line centers out there going to UFA. I’d love to see Poile go after Ribiero.

  14. LJA

    March 6, 2013 at 6:14 am

    I watched the Rangers/Flyers game last night and that is a script we should follow. Yes they dumped the puck in but only on occasions. That leaves the opponent guessing. Rick Nash was a great add for the Rangers and it’s a shame we didn’t pursue him! GO PREDS!!!