By Josh Cooper in Glendale, Ariz.Lineup changes
Talk of desperation. It's something that seemed all too foreign and uncommon to the Nashville Predators until they went down 0-2 to the Phoenix Coyotes.
"We could be a lot better; I don't think we're happy where we are," Predators Coach Barry Trotz said. "We're going to need our best players to be our best players. We're going to need to have a lot more detail and we're going to have to focus on the parts of our game that we can correct."
This is the first bit of adversity the Predators have faced all season. They used a strong January and February to cruise into the playoffs. Few of their games down the stretch were considered 'must-win.'
Even in their first round playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings, Nashville never trailed in games. Yes, they were in a tough spot when they went into Joe Louis Arena - a building in which they had never won in the post-season - tied 1-1 in their series. This feels different and they know it.
"We would have loved to come back here with the split. I thought we played well in Game 1. Last night was an unacceptable effort," forward Mike Fisher said. "We have to get back to the way we know we can play to be successful."
The Predators' top players haven't been at their peak performances this series. Alexander Radulov has one assist and is a minus-3. Predators Coach Barry Trotz didn't dismiss the possibility that Radulov could potentially come out of the lineup for Game 3.
"I couldn't even tell you that," Trotz said. "I'm not trying to hold anything back. I just don't know yet ... There [are] a lot of guys you could flip out."Weber/Suter need to step up
The Shea Weber/Ryan Suter defence pair was on the ice for Phoenix's Game 1 game-winning goal that came off the face off. Weber has one assist and is a minus-3 so far this series. Suter has three points and also is a minus-3.
Suter, Roman Josi and Kevin Klein are a combined minus-8 on the blue-line this series. Because of all this, the Predators may shift around their defensive pairs.
In the third period Josi moved back to play with Hal Gill and Kevin Klein jumped back with Francis Bouillon. Both Bouillon and Gill have been Nashville's only plus defensive pair this entire series.
"When it's all said and done, we're going to need production from everybody in the lineup," Trotz said. "Our top players have to be our top players, and I would say so far, that's not the case. We're getting beat by a little bit of our own formula - some good goaltending, a healthy dose of team defence and healthy dose of work ethic. We have to get back to our identity a little bit."
Nashville travelled Monday, so it was tough for them to work on these issues until Tuesday at the earliest. Is there enough time for them to improve before Game 3 on Wednesday?
"Our focus now is Wednesday and the guys that were here for those past series against Detroit know that we have to try to make it a three game series," forward David Legwand said. "We can't do that unless we get Wednesday, so we have to win Wednesday night."Josh Cooper reports for The Tennessean. Follow him @joshuacooper.
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