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Preds Begin 2022 Strong

January 3, 2022, 3:42 PM ET [3 Comments]
Clay Brewer
Nashville Predators Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The first two games following the holiday/COVID break saw the Preds maintaining their tenacious style of play but lacking that extra step. Of course, missing Josi and Sissons for the back-to-backs in Washington and Columbus was not ideal, but we have continued to see that when this team is given an extended break from play, they struggle in that first game back, especially in the opening frame or so. Although a horrid start to quickly go down 3-0 against the Caps, the Preds fought hard to make it a game before falling 5-3. Similarly in Columbus, the team fought back after falling down 2-1 and gaining a 3-2 lead before giving up the tying goal and ultimately falling in a shootout 4-3.

The loss in Washington was most certainly not the ideal outcome as costly defensive breakdowns were the downfall of this team. The absence of Josi made it abundantly clear how important he is to this back end and how he always makes others look better. His speed and hockey sense enables him to cover for mistakes that become much clearer with him out of the lineup. But that’s only natural. Taking away a team’s captain and best player, they are more likely than not going to miss a step, especially after a long break. Sissons is always a strong player who can fill in anywhere within the lineup and step up when needed. He isn’t flashy but gets the job done more times than not and his defensive abilities were missed.

The good thing is that offensively many of the players that have needed to step up have and continue to do so: Forsberg, Johansen, Jeannot, Josi, among others. Forberg has been on a great run having scored 16 points in his previous 14 games since returning from injury, Josi has been an offensive powerhouse having reached 30 points in 31 games, and Jeannot having 10 goals and 10 assists in 33 games tying him with Detroit’s Lukas Raymond for first in rookie goal scoring.

The recent downside is that if Saros or Rittich are not on their A-game, then the games likely turn into shootouts with the continued lack of a consistent defense. Although the officiating was not ideal, in my opinion, during the Washington game and especially during overtime in Columbus, the best teams find a way to win despite their misfortunes. If the defense can become more consistent and not so Josi-reliant, it will be a strong step forward for this team who continue to accumulate the points even with an average defensive core. Then again, the eye test is where this analysis comes from while the goals against for the season is only 89, far from being towards the league’s most and closer to the bottom than the top with only 8 teams giving up fewer through the same amount of games.

Despite these two lapses, the team entered 2022 on New Years’ Day with a decisive win over the division rival Blackhawks, 6-1. Sure, they were facing the third and fourth string goalies, but a win is a win. It was decisive and a nice turnaround from the previous two outings.

The Preds have continued to grind out results making them currently third in the Western Conference and second in the Central Division behind only the conference leading Knights and division leading Blues. As it sits, the Preds have a record of 20-11-2 and 42 points going 8-1-1 in their last 10. Not too bad of a record considering those two losses were not the best of performances, yet the results continue.

Per the course, the Preds are headed for another west coast roadtrip where they will play Vegas, Los Angeles, and Arizona before returning to Bridgestone for a two-game window at home.

The team undoubtedly has its weaknesses, but results continue to accumulate. The most important factor for a team that has a bad game is how they respond. The ability for this team to recover and bounce back the following night is a strength of this team worth noting. 33 games in with plenty more of action to come.
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