The Nashville Predators had to wait 146 days to play real, meaningful hockey again. Then, after all that waiting, they still looked unprepared and outmatched in taking on the Arizona Coyotes. They came out of the gate slow, made too many mistakes when the game was still being decided, and “turned it on” too late to change the outcome.

If you are a Nashville Predators fan, it looked very similar to the team we watched during the 2019-20 season.

Falling behind 3-1 in the 1st period, then 4-1 in the 2nd period, the Preds looked lost out on the ice. For the first 40 minutes of the game, it seemed as if they were waiting for the game to start. The Coyotes were the first to the puck, more creative in their breakouts and more sturdy in their defense. Darcy Kuemper looked sharper than Juuse Saros. Alex Goligoski and Oliver Ekman-Larsson looked more confident than Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis. Phil Kessel was a better offensive weapon than Matt Duchene.

How does this happen? After the long delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, you’d think the Preds would be ready to go at puck drop, eager to prove that their roster isn’t just excellent on paper, it’s actually excellent on the ice.

I mean, that’s what we’ve been waiting on for over a year right?

When the Nashville Predators signed Matt Duchene to a $56 million contract last summer, and when the team traded P.K. Subban to do so, we expected this to be an upgraded team in terms of both offense and defense. We expected the Preds to be a dynamic scoring team with a fast transition offense that could help balance a speedy, puck-carrying blueline.

We’ve yet to see any of that, at least not for more than a few brief moments.

As it happens, we did see it in Game 1 on Sunday, during a good stretch of the 3rd period. Fighting to get back in the game, Ryan Ellis scored from the blueline to make it 4-2. Then Filip Forsberg scored a power play goal to make it 4-3 and it was a brand new game.

At that point, the Preds were buzzing. They looked like the team we all expected to see last summer.

But then reality hit.

A Nick Bonino penalty. A careless turnover here and there. Another 50/50 puck lost to the Coyotes. Another ineffective shot from the blueline. Another impressive save by a confident Kuemper.

And that was all she wrote. Preds lose 4-3, just like they lost 34 other games this year and just like they might lost this best-of-five series to the Coyotes.

Will we ever see those mythical Nashville Predators we expected to see this year?

Maybe another four months off would help.

Preds Quote of the Week

John Hynes was tight lipped about his starting goalie decision going into Sunday. He went with Juuse Saros, which I think was the right call, then said before the game that Saros “didn’t give up the role he was in prior to the pause” which suggests that it was going to be Saros all along.

GIF Me That Good Stuff

I’d like to think that I could have scored the goal that Filip Forsberg scored to make it 4-3. Look at how wide open this net is:

Let’s Do That Hockey

  • Tuesday, August 4th vs Arizona Coyotes (Game 2; 1:30 p.m.)
  • Wednesday, August 5th vs Arizona Coyotes (Game 3; 1:30 p.m.)
  • Friday, August 7th vs Arizona Coyotes (Game 4, if necessary)
  • Sunday, August 9th vs Arizona Coyotes (Game 5, if necessary)

Final Thought

For more discussion on the Preds’ Game 1 loss to the Coyotes, check out our latest episode of the Preds NashCast, recorded exactly 30 minutes after the game.

Kris Martel of The Neutral Zone and Broadway Sports joined Link and me to figure out:

  • Who on the Preds was most responsible for the loss?
  • Was starting Juuse Saros the right decision?
  • Can the Preds claw back into the series?

Check it out on Soundcloud (linked above), iTunes (link), and Spotify (link). We usually record every two weeks, but we will churn out at least one episode every week while the Nashville Predators are in the playoffs.

— Featured image via Nashville Predators —


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