The Nashville Predators have the youngest team in the National Hockey League. However, that doesn't excuse the effort that has been on display for the first five games of the season.
Through the first five games, the Predators have just four players with a positive plus-minus rating. Those four are David Legwand(+1), Ryan Suter(+1), Shea Weber(+1) and Jordin Tootoo(+1).
Nashville has 115 shots in five games, which is an average of 23 shots per game. The Predators have given up 164 shots in five games, which is an average of 32.8 shots per game. That's almost a 10 shot per game differential.
Pekka Rinne has been the one bright spot for the Predators so far this season. He's faced 162 shots in five games, and has only allowed 12 goals. Furthermore, a lot of those goals haven't been his fault.
The Predator style of hockey is supposed to be defensively sound and hard-working. So far this season, the Predators have not been defensively sound and they have not been a hard-working team.
While it's only five games into an 82 game season, there is still a cause for concern if you're a Nashville fan. It's not just because the Predators are on a bit of a losing skid. It's the way that they are losing games.
Nashville hasn't deserved to win a single game they've played so far this season, including the two wins to open the year. The players and coaches will be the first ones to tell you that. The qualities that have always been associated with a team coach by Barry Trotz are not there so far this year.
We know that the Predators are capable of playing "Predator hockey." They played that way for the majority of last year, and the majority of the current team was a part of that. It's all about the effort. If the Predators go back to their style of play, and go back to the hard-working style that has made them successful in the past, then they will return to a winning style of hockey.
The Predators return to Vancouver on Thursday night to take on the Canucks. This game may be the perfect remedy to Nashville's season-opening struggles. Vancouver eliminated the Predators in the second round of last year's playoffs. The Preds should be up for this game because they'll want to bring everything they have at the Canucks.
Monday night's game in Edmonton should really be a wake up call for the Predators. There is still plenty of time for the Predators to turn this disappointing style of play around, but it's a habit that needs to be broken quickly. It's time for the players to sit down, look in the mirror and hold themselves accountable. If that happens, the Predators will be a very tough team to play.