It's almost like the Predators are actually a bad hockey team and not, contrary to popular belief, a good hockey team going through an uncharacteristic slump. They dropped tonight's Winter Classic preview against Dallas 4-1, with all four Stars goals going unanswered.
You know it's either going to be an exceptionally exciting or exceptionally bad night when Dan Hamhuis gets the primary assist on the Preds' only goal of the night. Despite outshooting the Stars 38-22, the Preds still could not compensate for the 23 blocked shots they took. They went 0 for 3 on the power play, even giving up a shorthanded goal. Every single goal of tonight's game was scored in the second period, with Dallas scoring on four of the eight shots they took during the frame. In comparison, the Preds' second period yielded just one goal out of the 13 total shots they took.
If there are any bright sides to this game, it's that the Preds killed off both of Dallas' power plays, which should bump them up ever so slightly in the PK category.
For another positive addition, the Preds were very successful in spreading their shots around the offensive zone very evenly. Compared to the Stars' side of the same map, shown below, from Natural Stat Trick, the Preds took more chances from all angles. However, that map becomes irrelevant when you can't score on all those shots taken.
The Preds' shot map probably explains why, per advanced statistics, the Preds actually crushed the Stars in Corsi For ratings. In all scenarios (even strength, power play, and penalty kill), the Preds recorded 80 CF instances with a 70.18 percent advantage over the opposition. This means that the Preds put forth an exponentially better offensive effort than Dallas tonight, but never managed to reap the bounty of their efforts. And ultimately, the score at the end of the game is what decides a winner, not Corsi scores.
Roman Josi, Matt Duchene, and Calle Jarnkrok all recorded -3 evenings. In this alternate reality we lived through tonight, Dante Fabbro, Colin Blackwell, and Yakov Trenin were the only Predators to turn in positive on-ice ratings.
Let's say, for the sake of projection, that the Preds are actually just bad. We'll miss the playoffs (for the first time in several years), saving us a lot of undue embarrassment. We'll draft high. Maybe not as high as Seth Jones-high, but higher than we've drafted in a while. We'll fire a coach or two or three.
Now let's stick with the idea that the Preds aren't bad, they're just not "clicking". They're clearly not getting it together by themselves, so what's the fallback when the players aren't performing highly enough? Coaching. No matter which way you look at the current state of the Predators, it can pretty much all be boiled down to the fact that this team's coaches simply shrug off futility without enforcing repercussions- usually proffering the overworked "It just wasn't our night" cliche.
Nothing is going to change in Nashville until someone fires someone else. Case(s) in point, the Blues didn't rocket to the Stanley Cup last year without Doug Armstrong first firing Mike Yeo. The Maple Leafs have gone 7-4 since firing Mike Babcock on Nov. 20. The Flames are now 6-1 after Bill Peters was fired on Nov. 29. Hell, the Stars worked us in our home barn tonight after firing Jim Montgomery four days ago.
Waiting around waiting for things to take a turn is not a good look, but an acceptable one nonetheless in December. Once the new year begins, a sense of urgency should overtake the Predators organization.
The Preds travel to New York City on Monday to face the Rangers.