Weber: Forget scoring, Preds need to play better defense

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If you haven’t watched the Predators closely this season, you might assume their biggest weakness remains scoring. After all, that’s the way it was last year, and the year before that…and the year before that.

But Nashville’s offense actually ranks ninth in the NHL, averaging 2.8 goals per game. More than Washington. More than San Jose.

In fact, if there’s one thing the Preds need to improve as the playoffs approach, it’s defense. In their past two games, they’ve lost 6-3 to the Oilers and 5-1 to the Penguins. Since the beginning of February, they’ve surrendered three or more goals in 10 of 23 games. They haven’t shut a team out since Jan. 19.

“We’re just not committed enough defensively right now,” said captain Shea Weber Thursday, as per CBSSports.com.

“I think we’re too worried about scoring goals. We need to figure out that our main priority is playing defense. We’re talented enough that we’ll be able to score those, but right now we’re thinking offense first and not defense.”

Pekka Rinne’s numbers have taken a hit in the process. The Vezina-caliber goalie has a .890 save percentage in March, and he’s been yanked in two of his last eight starts.

Predators beat writer Josh Cooper (The Tennessean) wonders if Rinne’s battling fatigue, and he might be on to something. Only Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller has played more games (68) than Rinne (66). And no goalie’s faced more shots (1,972).

Nashville hosts Winnipeg Saturday.