Opinion: Predators need to be determined in December

Sports

RALEIGH, NC – NOVEMBER 29: Lucas Hallmark #71 of the Carolina Hurricanes slides on the ice past Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators who covers the puck during an NHL game on November 29, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nashville, Tenn. (WKRN)- There are plenty of things to be thankful for in November, but the Nashville Predators’ record is not on that list. The Preds have played 12 games this month (not counting Saturday at Florida), losing eight of them.

A six game skid cost them to lose a chunk of ground in the Central Division standings and right now the Preds are sitting in the five spot (28 points), still 10 points behind the St. Louis Blues (38 points).

Here is the deal, there is no need to push the big red panic button, yet. December is on the Horizon and the Preds will split their time with six games at home, six on the road and there are plenty of opportunities for this team to get back in the mix, they just need to be determined to do it.

It all starts with the leadership of guys like Roman Josi and Ryan Johansen in the dressing room. While the Kyle Turris situation continues to be a mystery to everyone on the outside, chances are the team knows what is going on and that can’t be a distraction.

On the ice, there are plenty of things that need to improve, including special teams play. The Preds power play has dipped a bit from the start of the season, sitting 22nd in the league (16.9%) and the penalty kill has been an issue. The Preds rank 29th in this category (73.8%) and both percentages are below the league average.

The next thing to figure out, who is going to be a consistent force in between the pipes moving forward? There is no question that Pekka Rinne struggled in November, enduring four straight loses, however he did bounce back nicely with a shutout win over Carolina on Friday.

Meanwhile, the young Juuse Saros was able to get the Preds back on track with back to back wins over division rivals, St. Louis. Rinne is still the starter in my eyes. Sitting on the bench for three straight games, I think he’s mentally ready to handle the work load in December.

So far I’ve sounded like a ‘Negative Nancy,’ so here comes some positivity. The Predators are clicking offensively, averaging 3.44 goals per game (7th best in the league) and with the talent and depth of this team, I don’t see this slowing down anytime soon.

The biggest thing to remember when it comes the NHL season, it’s really long and you really want to be playing your BEST hockey headed into the playoffs. That wasn’t the case last season and the Preds were bounced in the first round. I know this saying gets old fans, but it’s true- It’s a marathon, not a sprint to the finish.

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