Given their style of play and lack of offensive firepower, there is perhaps no team in the league that relies on its starting goaltender more than the Nashville Predators.
Pekka Rinne is one of the best in the business and typically keeps them in games, giving them a chance to win every night, no matter how few goals they score or how badly they get outshot.
That happens when he is in the lineup, that is.
Unfortunately for the Predators, a nasty hip injury has limited Rinne to just nine games this season and his replacements, a revolving door of Carter Hutton, Devan Dubnyk and Marek Mazanec has, needless to say, not been up to the same standard of play. Not one of the three has a save percentage higher than .904 entering the weekend before the 2014 NHL trade deadline.
When your team relies on goaltending and defense to win hockey games and doesn't get the goaltending, well, that team probably isn't going to win many games.
So, say hello to the 2013-14 Nashville Predators. It hasn't been a fun year.
Will David Legwand go?
Stability has been a big thing with the Nashville Predators, right down to the point that the franchise has had just one head coach (Barry Trotz) and one general manager (David Poile) in its entire existence. Change doesn't happen here very often, at least as it pertains to the front office and positions of power within the organization.
On the ice, it begins and ends with David Legwand, the original Predator and the only player who has been with the organization since its beginning. He was the very first draft pick of the team and has played his entire career in Nashville. As a 33-year-old free-agent-to-be on a team that seems unlikely to make the playoffs, he might be the first player you look to when it comes to potential trade chips for Poile at the deadline.
As of Friday, he was tied for the team lead in scoring with 40 points. He's been a rock over the years, and the face of the franchise on and off the ice, but is it time to turn the page and start a new chapter?
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Will Matt Cullen join him?
The Predators spent quite a bit of money this past offseason on depth players like Matt Hendricks, Eric Nystrom, Matt Cullen, Viktor Stalberg and Kevin Klein. For the most part, they haven't really worked out as planned and two of them (Hendricks and Klein) have already been traded.
It seems reasonable to think that the 37-year-old Cullen could soon join them.
Find some offense
At some point the Predators are going to have to find somebody, somewhere, who can put the puck in the net. They've stayed competitive for a few years with their "let's win every game 2-1" approach but eventually, if you want to take the next step in your progression and go from a team that is merely competitive to a team that is a serious threat to compete for a championship, you're going to have to score goals.
A lot of goals. A lot more goals than the Predators have traditionally scored over the years.