Three improvements the Predators must make in Game 2
After limping out of the gate in Game 1, the Nashville Predators will need to make a handful of improvements Tuesday afternoon if they want to even up the series with the Arizona Coyotes.
The Preds took far too many penalties, struggled once again to tally on the powerplay, and were caught out by little mistakes time and again through the first 40 minutes on Sunday.
When playing their game, the Preds are head and shoulders above the Coyotes. Here are three areas of improvement we need to see from Nashville for this crucial second game.
Dominance in the faceoff circle
Nick Bonino and Ryan Johansen did a great job taking and winning faceoffs in Game 1, but the drop-off after these two is one of the biggest worrying signs.
Bonino won 60 percent of his draws while Johansen won 58 percent. Behind those two, head coach John Hynes needs to find some consistency from his centers. It is truly worrying to see Kyle Turris won 33 percent of his faceoffs despite spending 15 and a half minutes minutes on the ice.
Even though four out of Nashville's six players who took a faceoff had a success rate under 50 percent, the team split the faceoffs won with the Coyotes evenly.
Hynes will look to match Johansen or Bonino up with Arizona's Derek Stepan or Brad Richardson who combined to win 19 faceoffs on Sunday. If the Predators can dictate play from the moment the puck is dropped, they have the offensive and defensive talent to control the game.
Limit the giveaways
It wasn't the worst thing that happened in Game 1, but the number of giveaways from the Preds was annoying.
Nashville had 10 giveaways to the Coyotes' six but it was the difference those giveaways made on the scoreboard that makes it a talking point. Had it not been for Filip Forsberg's costly error on the powerplay in the second period, the Preds would not have gone down 4-1.
Playing with a lead is of course preferable to playing from behind, but, being careful with the puck at all times and trying to not allow a counter-attack to Arizona should be of paramount focus this afternoon.
The Coyotes totaled 37 shots in Game 1. They don't need any help in the neutral zone.
We want more of the JoFA line!
How did the Predators reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2017? By riding the forward line of Forsberg, Johansen, and Viktor Arvidsson! In order to do it again, the team must do the same thing.
The depth on this year's team simply is not good enough. Therefore, John Hynes must be looking for times to double shift the JoFA line or find a mismatch after the puck goes out of play to get them matched with the third or fourth Coyotes line.
Remember, the Predators will have to play again in just over 24 hours in Game 3, so, is it asking too much for these guys to play nearly a third of the game with such a short turnaround looming?
No I don't think so. The Predators could potentially be knocked out of the Qualifying playoff round by 5 p.m. tomorrow. This is the playoffs.
Everyone must go that extra yard to help get the goals and the JoFA line are the players to do it. Let's hope Filip can build on those two big goals from game one and do it again today!