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Disappointing Predators know they need to ‘pull it together’

Nashville Predators v San Jose Sharks - Game Seven

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 12: Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators collides with Nick Spaling #16 of the San Jose Sharks in the second period of Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 12, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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To be fair to the Nashville Predators, they’ve had a tough schedule. Only three home games, against Chicago, Dallas, and Pittsburgh. The rest on the road, in some tough places to play.

Still, their start has been a disappointing one, because the Preds expected to be among the NHL’s elite. Eight games in, they only have two wins, with a goal differential of minus-9, tied for worst in the league.

On Saturday, they dropped a 4-1 decision in San Jose, a game they trailed 3-o just 3:04 into the second period.

“We’ve got to find a way to come out in these games and score the first goal,” head coach Peter Laviolette said, per The Tennessean. “Get a lead and try and build off it from there as opposed to always trying to chase the game from behind or never having that comfort of being up a goal. ... Falling into those holes like that, it’s not helping.”

Ryan Johansen isn’t helping much either. The 24-year-old center had three assists in the Preds’ first game, but just one in the next seven. He has no goals and has yet to register a point at even strength. In fact, he hasn’t even been on the ice for a Nashville goal at five-on-five!

Filip Forsberg doesn’t have a goal either, and James Neal has but one.

Meanwhile, the top pairing of P.K. Subban and Roman Josi are minus-7 and minus-6, respectively, with the possession stats to match.

And then there’s Pekka Rinne, who’s 1-4-1 with a .906 save percentage. Not helping.

On the bright side, their schedule begins to ease up soon. They play at Colorado tomorrow and at Arizona Thursday, before returning home to face Carolina, Ottawa, St. Louis, and Anaheim.

“We’ve gone through this before,” said veteran center Mike Fisher. “It’s how you come out of it, how you learn, how you become a team. We’re going to do that, look back in a few weeks and we’ll pull it together.”

They’d better hope so, because this franchise has never entered a season with so much optimism. Maybe that even played a role in the slow start. After all, the Preds wouldn’t be the first team to read their own press clippings, then receive a rude awakening.