As a team, the Nashville Predators have had their ups and downs so far this season. They've had stretches where their play has been solid, and they've also had stretches where their play has been poor.
Like the team as a whole, Nashville's defense has been uncharacteristically inconsistent so far this year. The Predators have given up 71 goals through 26 games, which is right in the middle of the league. For a team that's usually near the top of the league in fewest goals allowed, that's not a good recipe for success.
"We just need to get on the same page. Defense is five guys working in the zone together, and we just need to communicate more, bear down more, and really eliminate the cycle plays. That seems to be where we are getting beat a lot of times so we just need to sort things out and really play physical and strong down low," said Nashville defenseman Kevin Klein.
Shea Weber and Ryan Suter form arguably the best defensive pairing in the world. They bring an element of consistency to the rink every night. You know what you're going to get out of them. They play a lot of minutes, they're very skilled offensively and they are two of the best shutdown defensemen in the game. However, the defensemen on the second and third pairing have been up and down throughout the year.
"Obviously, (Suter and Weber) are doing their part. The rest of us have to pick it up a bit. We're playing ok, but we're definitely going to have to get better. We've just got to be better as a group. Sometimes it is a little chaotic with guys switching and stuff like that, but we're professionals and we're used to that. We've just got to adjust to it," said Predators defenseman Jonathon Blum.
A the season moves along, younger players like Blum and Roman Josi will continue to improve and adjust to the NHL game. The eventual return of Francis Bouillon will also be a big key in stabilizing the defensive corps. Suter has seen improvement in consistency during the past few weeks.
"I think we've been good lately. We have to continue to work hard in our defensive zone and continue to communicate in the zone. The rest will work itself out," Suter said.
If the Predators are able to establish consistent play from both sides of the ice on a nightly basis, they will find that winning games will also come more consistently.