Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Canucks Crunch Predators 4-1

The Predators winning streak came to a crashing halt at GM place in Vancouver, as the Canuckleheads Canucks thumped the Predators 4-1. This was the Predators last game before the Christmas break and the Predators played as if they were ready to be home. Outworked and outhustled for most of the game, the Predators never mounted a serious threat to desperate Vancouver squad looking to get back in to the playoff hunt.

The Predators survived a first period onslaught 0-0 where they were outshot 14-6 and under duress for the entire period. Dan Ellis got the start in net and was called on to make some quality saves as the Canucks peppered the Nashville net. Offensively, the Predators did not seriously challenge Roberto Luongo, and were fortunate to escape with a scoreless tie.

That changed in the second period as Steve Bernier found himself alone in front of Dan Ellis and deftly slipped the puck in the net for a 1-0 Vancouver lead. Ten minutes later, Daniel Sedin scored on a power play goal to make the score 2-0. The Predators survived the remainder of the second with no further damage.

Damage occured in the third period, though, as both Sami Salo and Henrik Sedin tallied with even strength goals to push the margin to 4-0. Patric Hornqvist scored a beautiful goal over Luongo's shoulder for the Predators only goal, and the streak came to a halt with the 4-1 loss.

A major concern for the Predators is the long term health of forward Jerred Smithson, who left the game after two shifts when he blocked a shot and appeared to injury his hand or wrist. Smithson is being evaluated by team doctors after the team arrives back in Nashville.

I'm not going to go all Scrooge on the Predators by dwelling on the shortcomings of this game. I'm certainly not happy about the outcome or the effort. I am going to focus on the 7-2-1 record in the last ten games and what it took to win those games: heart, hustle, grit, and determination. Those were not on display tonight. So be it- I don't like it, but that is what happened.

Now there are several days off and the opportunity to rest and recharge. Do that, boys, because it is a long season and the sixty minute wars are only going to get tougher. Steel yourself, because you will jump back in to in a big way with the home and home series with the Blackhawks.

The importance of losing a game such as this is that it can bring the focus back on to the things that made winning possible. No, losing is not fun, but it can be invaluable in reinforcing the necessary lessons about how to win, especially in the course of a long season.

Time to regroup and start a new winning streak. In the spirit of the holidays, time to be Scrooge for a lot of other teams.

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