The Nashville Predators will be looking for more from their core players when they play the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup First Round at PNC Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; CNBC, FX-CA, TVAS2, BSSO).
“There are lots of players that are in the lineup that don’t ever really come out and they need to be better,” Predators coach John Hynes said Tuesday. “We’re talking about subbing certain guys in. It could be a [third defense] pair, it could be guys who have been in and out of the lineup. … But the players that are in your lineup every night, that you count on to play important roles, play big matchups, be difference makers in the game, there needs to be elevation in those players. If that gets better than our team will be a better team and be more competitive as the series goes along.”
The Predators trail 1-0 in the best-of-7 series after their 5-2 loss to the Hurricanes in Game 1 on Monday.
Predators general manager David Poile said on ESPN 102.5 The Game on Tuesday that Nashville needs better play from its “high-end guys.”
“Our best players got outplayed a little bit last night by their best players, and it’s something I would hope we can even the playing field in the next game by our top guys stepping up and having a better performance,” Poile said. “I don’t think we had our ‘A’ game from a lot of guys. It was OK, but OK’s not going to get the job done in the playoffs. We need some guys to step up to match some of their performances that they got from Carolina.”
Hynes was asked about the Game 1 play of several players, including defensemen Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, and forward Ryan Johansen.
Josi, who plays with Ellis on Nashville’s top defense pair, was on the ice for four of Carolina’s goals, and Ellis was on for three of them. Hynes said he would consider splitting them, but that it’s still about them being better regardless of whether they’re together or apart.
“I think both guys didn’t have their best night for different reasons and we expect both those guys to have a strong response going into tomorrow’s game,” Hynes said. “… First and foremost, individually there is better there. We all know they can play better. They’re prideful guys, they’re real important guys on our team. I think a response from them is going to be important tomorrow in their individual games.”
Hynes said Johansen needed to play a more complete game, particularly when matched against Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal, who scored two goals in Game 1. Johansen was on the ice for Staal’s first goal.
“I thought there were some good pockets there with him, but we need much more sustainability and consistency as the game goes on, particularly in the playoffs, particularly on the road with matchups,” Hynes said. “You have to be able to win your matchups, and you have to be able to do it longer than 20 minutes.”
Hynes didn’t discuss potential lineup changes for Game 2, but Poile said during his radio interview that there could be some. He said playing rookie forward Eeli Tolvanen, who was scratched for Game 1, could help a Predators power play that went 0-for-3. Tolvanen led Nashville with six power-play goals during the regular season.
“I don’t know what the coaches are thinking today, but they do have a pretty good weapon there that didn’t play last night, and that’s Eeli Tolvanen, who’s probably the main reason we got our power play going the second half of the season,” Poile said. “That’s an option available for the coaches.”