The Nashville Predators didn’t just lose to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night, they got beat, and beat bad. The Predators allowed a season-high seven goals to the Canucks, who chased Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne after four goals and beat Chris Mason for two more. The Predators scored four goals, which on a normal night is enough to win with Rinne in net, and they also outshot the Canucks but still came up short. As they continue to fight for a playoff spot, games like this will continue to hold the Predators back and they have some questions to address if they hope to turn their fortunes around.
Can Rinne handle the workload being thrown at him this season? Rinne came into Thursday night’s game with two shutouts and only one goal allowed in his previous three starts. Rinne has been overworked this season and has been the goaltender of record in 23 of the team’s 27 games. Chances are this was just a fluke performance from Rinne and he should be able to bounce back. He hasn’t typically gotten a lot of support from the Predators’ offense this season or his record would be a lot better.
Will injuries destroy the Predators chances to make the playoffs? With forwards Patric Hornqvist, Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad, as well as defenseman Hal Gill sidelined the Predators are missing skill players at both ends of the ice. Wilson leads the team with seven goals and 19 points, and other players will need to step up and fill the void left by his absence.
Can the Predators find success on the road? The loss to the Canucks came in the second game of a five-game road trip. Nashville is 5-8-1 on the road this season (and a much better 6-2-4 at home) and will need to show they can take points from away games to reach the postseason. While the Predators have 11 wins this season, only three have come in their past 10 games. The loss to the Canucks can either define their season or spur a change and a move forward. How the Predators answer these questions will determine whether or not they return to the playoffs this season.