The Nashville Predators have lost two of their last three games, scoring only one total goal in those defeats. On Thursday night, they face a Phoenix Coyotes team that could provide them with the chance to finally get things going up front. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne remains sidlined, making it even more important that the offense helps ease the pressure on Carter Hutton or Magnus Hellberg in net. Twelve games into the season, Nashville’s offense ranks 27th in the league in scoring, averaging less than two tallies per game. Patric Hornqvist is the only forward with more than two goals, and only four players on the team have more than five points. A Coyotes team that is allowing almost 32 shots on goal per game will provide an interesting matchup, and could present the opportunities that players like David Legwand, Matt Cullen and Paul Gaustad need to break out of their scoring funk.
The Coyotes are on a five-game winning streak at home, and when it comes to offense they are almost the complete opposite of the Predators. Eight different players have three goals or more this season, and 10 players have six points or more. Mike Smith has quietly put together a solid start to the season, winning seven games with a 2.97 goals-against average. The Coyotes may rank fourth in the league in scoring, but they’re also giving up quite a few – they rank 23rd in goals-against, giving up an average of three goals per game.
The Predators know things won’t be easy while Rinne is sidelined, and they need to do everything possible to help out Hutton in his absence. Relying on Shea Weber and Seth Jones to provide offense isn’t a good plan, and offseason acquisitions like Cullen and Eric Nystrom need to continue helping out.