If you had to guess the NHL team with the 20th-ranked goals-against average, the 27th-ranked save percentage, and 29th-ranked penalty kill, would you guess the Nashville Predators?
Because you’d be right if you did.
The 2015-16 Predators are struggling to keep goals out of their net. It’s not what we’re used to seeing from this franchise.
It’s also hurting their chances of making the playoffs. Currently, they’re fifth in the Central, but only barely. The sixth-place Avalanche have as many points, with Nashville holding a game in hand.
The Preds started the season 11-3-3. Since then, they’re 8-13-4.
In their last three games — all regulation losses — they’ve allowed 13 goals combined, while scoring just four.
“Is there a concern in the last three to five games? Yeah, there is,” coach Peter Laviolette told reporters after Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Coyotes. “We’ve got to be better and there’s no excuse. We’ve got to start playing well enough to win games, not just playing games.”
Better goaltending would go a long way. Though Rinne was named to the All-Star Game, his numbers are downright poor. Among the 22 goalies with at least 25 starts, his .906 save percentage is better than only Cam Ward‘s .905.
Despite Rinne’s under-the-radar struggles, he’s still started 35 games, the second-most in the NHL behind Cory Schneider‘s 36. That’s because backup Carter Hutton has even worse numbers. In six starts, the 30-year-old has an .895 save percentage.
Heading into tonight’s game in Chicago, the Preds have been saying all the right things. There’s no panic. Yet.
“We’re not where we want to be, but at the same time, we’re in a spot where we can control a lot of things,” center Mike Fisher told The Tennessean. “We can turn this around, and I’m confident that we’re going to do it.”
After finally getting a number-one center in Ryan Johansen, they’d better. Because the Preds have Stanley Cup aspirations now. In terms of acceptable results, making the playoffs is the bare minimum.