The series between the Predators and Coyotes has the Coyotes playing in their comfort zone and the Predators scuffling. There are a few potential factors to Nashville’s problems so far against Phoenix. Hopefully for Preds fans, they can sort some of them out.
Intensity: The Coyotes and Blackhawks tied a record when their first 5 games went to overtime, while the Predators practically coasted against the Red Wings. The Predators came to play in game one, a game that went to overtime, but they fell flat in game two. The Preds were able to match Phoenix through three periods and overtime (even playing better than the Coyotes through the third period), but they weren’t able to match that same level of intensity in a sloppier game 2.
Frustration: Mike Smith is playing out of his mind right now. In the third period of game 1, the Predators outshot the Coyotes 16-1. It’s easy for a team to lose it’s resolve when met with failure at every turn, like they were for 24/25 shots in the final period and overtime.
Travel: Every team in the west could be faced with a travel nightmare, and in the case, Nashville has found that nightmare. They had to travel two time zones to face their second round opponent in Phoenix after facing virtual next door neighbor Detroit in round 1. Obviously, this is not a an argument that holds a lot of water.. Los Angeles is doing the same, travelling two time zones, and have already upended St. Louis in game 1.
Whatever the reason behind why Phoenix has taken a 2-0 lead over Nashville, it comes down to Phoenix playing better and getting the breaks. When the series continues in Nashville, the Predators need to step up their pressure on Mike Smith, and start getting their breaks. Most importantly, they need to take the Coyotes just as seriously as they did the Red Wings.