Opinion: Take positives from Predators win, but problems still need fixing

Sports Digital Extra

Nashville Predators right wing Craig Smith (15) is congratulated by Ryan Johansen (92) after Smith scored his third goal of the game against the New York Islanders in the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Nashville, Tenn. (WKRN)- The Nashville Predators returned home on Thursday night and gave their fans a show, completely destroying the New York Islanders 5-0.

That performance was long overdue at Bridgestone Arena. Before getting the win over the Islanders, the Predators were just 11-11-4 on home ice. Now with the Preds playing their next seven out of nine games at home, fans are certainly hoping to get their money’s worth when it comes to play on the ice.

Right now the mood is trending up with plenty of positives to take from Thursday’s game. This was the Predators first shutout since January 12th, and Juuse Saros was solid in net with 31 saves. He also recorded his second shutout of the season and ninth of his career. Right now it seems like Saros is ‘they guy.’

While some don’t want to admit it, I think at this point fans need to except the fact that Saros will likely get a majority of the starts for the remainder of the season. It’s not a bad thing to have Pekka Rinne as a backup because he will still be a big part of helping this team make the playoffs, if that is in fact the way it all plays out.

Scoring five goals in one game, we saw this type of play in October, when a variety of players were chipping in. On Thursday, the majority of scoring was led by one line and specifically forward Craig Smith.

Smith recorded his first career-regular season hat trick at 30 years old and while he’s far from the highest paid player on the roster, he’s been pretty solid this season. Smith sits third on the team with 16 goals and while no one is going to complain about that, you do have to ask the question, “Why aren’t the Predators getting the production out of their ‘star’ players?”

Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, and Filip Forsberg are all big names that have big money attached to them, but their production hasn’t been there OR just hasn’t been consistent. Getting too comfortable, that is just one factor that might contribute to underwhelming play on this team, and that is a big reason why John Hynes was brought in, to shake up the room.

Hynes has been working on that, holding all players accountable and making them earn ice time. While we’ve seen a response from guys like Kyle Turris and Mikael Granlund, we are still waiting for others to follow suit.

So while we can all be excited about a convincing win on home ice, at this point the Predators have to start putting together multiple wins if they want to jump into a playoff spot. If you were to ask me, this next stretch of games is the deciding factor.

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