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Nashville Predators

Flames Debacle a Perfect Example of Predators’ Growing Pains



Nashville Predators
Photo of Juuse Saros, left, and Roman Josi by John Russell/Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators head coach Andrew Brunette didn’t pull any punches in his assessment of his team’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.

In fact, for the first time this season, Brunette’s feathers appeared to be more than a little ruffled as he reflected on what was arguably the Predators worst performance of the season.

“I think of all of our games this year, this is the first game that I walked away really disappointed in our group,” Brunette said. “I thought [our performance] was very flat. It wasn’t anywhere near as good as we can play.”

The Predators didn’t just lose another run-of-the-mill Tuesday nighter against a non-divisional opponent.

They got embarrassed by a Flames team that outshot them 11-2 and dominated 61.1% of the scoring chances in the final period — the same Flames team that until Tuesday had just five wins since 2020 when trailing after two periods (second-fewest in the NHL over that stretch).

Calgary had nearly as many shots on goal in the first period (16) as Nashville did the entire game (18), which matched the team’s lowest shot total of the season. It’s also the second time this year Nashville was held to fewer than 20 shots.

The 21-shot disparity between the two teams also marks the most the Predators have been outshot by since March 25 of last season when the Seattle Kraken outshot them by 23.

“We just didn’t respond,” Brunette added. “We lost way too many puck battles. When you’re slow and you’re not quick on pucks, you defend. We defended way too much tonight.”

The rest of the scoresheet wasn’t kind to the Predators either. The Flames bested them in every area that mattered including scoring chances for (37-19), high-danger chances for (16-9), face-off win percentage (55% to 45%) and takeaways (10 to 8).

“I don’t think we were able to get enough possession and establish our forecheck and create turnovers,” forward Kiefer Sherwood said of why the game got away from the Predators. “For our team, it’s a lot more taxing when you’re playing defense, and we played more of the game in the D-zone and we didn’t get pucks out. I think we’ve still got a ways to go on the blue lines; we’re not winning the battles on the blue lines.”

While the Predators have had moments where they appears to be finding their rhythm, they’re still a franchise in transition — one that has experimented with 10 different forward combinations and 10 different defensive pairings in its first 12 games.

The on-ice product has looked markedly better than it did the previous season, but Tuesday was a perfect reminder that there will be plenty of instances when the results won’t be pretty and they’ll simply have to just take it on the chin.

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

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