Sometimes, the answer doesn’t require complicated analysis.
The Nashville Predators are tied for last in the NHL in goals per game (1.67) and are alone in 30th in shots per game (23.2).
That, in a nutshell, explains a mediocre start that has seen the team win only once in six games (1-2-3) in this young season.
They need goals. Now.
"Yes, 100 percent," Preds captain Shea Weber told ESPN.com on the phone from the L.A. area Wednesday. "We’re very aware of that. It starts with our forecheck. It’s tough to generate anything if you’re not getting the puck and teams are breaking out real easy. I think we have to get a little more aggressive and intense on the forecheck, which will lead to some turnovers and creating things down low. Our power play also has to step up. It made a big difference for us last year and needs to get back to where it was."
The good thing is, they’ve got easy games coming up Thursday at Los Angeles, Saturday at San Jose and Tuesday at St. Louis.
You can’t win a championship in this lockout-shortened season in the first two to three weeks of the season, but you sure can ruin any chance at one.
The Preds need to snap out of this funk very soon before they dig too big of a hole.
"Everything is magnified right now with the short season," Weber said. "We even talked about it before the season, that we couldn’t afford a slump or a lull. And obviously it’s happened. We have to try and find a way to correct it quickly."
To be fair, the Preds could have easily won three games that ended up as losses in a shootout. That’s a coin flip. But they lost them. And then it starts to compound itself mentally. Which leads to Monday night in Phoenix, when the Preds played their worst game of the season.
Yes, the Preds lost star defenseman Ryan Suter last summer to the Wild. But otherwise, this is largely the same team returning, a club that contended last season and reached the second round of the playoffs.
"I thought maybe we had a head start on some teams with the fact we hadn’t made a lot of changes to our lineup, but it’s not bearing out," Predators general manager David Poile told ESPN.com.
"This is a tough league with a lot of good teams," he added. "To me, every night is whether you win 3-2 or you lose 3-2. You almost have to score three goals to win on most nights. And it’s going to be close. Everybody just has to play a little bit better. We have to improve in every area."
No need for finger-pointing here. This isn’t about one or two players. What’s always made the Predators tough to beat is that their whole is greater than the sum of their parts: everyone chipping in for a total team effort. Right now, they’re just the sum of their parts because everyone on this team needs to do more.
"Exactly," agreed Weber, who has yet to register a point. "You can go down the list and every guy you can say something about it. It’s a joint effort and that’s how our team works. You need everybody in, every night. We don’t have that line that can take a night off and still win games. We need to make sure that if you’re having an off night, you find other ways to help the team."
Added Poile: " ... Right now it hasn’t happened because we’re not getting those contributions throughout our team on a nightly or timely basis. It’s that fine line between winning and losing. The expectation is that we have to get more from each individual player."
Back to Predators hockey. That’s what’s needed. And it starts Thursday in Los Angeles against the defending Cup champs.
"It’s going to come down to us realizing we’re not playing our style of hockey," Weber said. "We’re not playing well at all in a lot of areas. We’ve got to get back to basics, and we know that we can. Not a lot has changed since last summer. We just have to get back to work."