Head Coach Barry Trotz said the Predators were missing two D's in their 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames. Determination and desperation. Lacking those traits in their game lead to a "D" -defeat- for the Predators, snapping a three game winning streak and extending their home losing streak to the Flames to four games.
Give the Flames their due. They check and take away space. They make it difficult to enter the offensive zone. They can control the puck in their offensive zone, making the opponent work just to clear the zone. And they played this game to perfection tonight.
David Moss opened the scoring for the Flames after a scoreless first period, knocking in a puck in a goal mouth scramble past a sprawled Dan Eliis, who got the start in net for the Predators. It appeard that the puck had been covered, but it was laying in the blue ice when Moss found it and slapped it in to an open net.
That scored stood until :17 second remained in the second period when Ollie Jokinen corraled a big rebound given up by Ellis and knocked the puck into a practically open net. This goal was a back breaker for the Preds and created a deficit that they couldn't overcome.
The Predators tallied on their third power play of the night when Patric Hornqvist walked the puck out of the corner and waited until Miika Kiprusoff went down to the ice. Hornqvist roofed the shot for the score, and with five minutes remaining, the Predators had life.
That was snuffed out in the final minute when Daymond Langkow scored an empty netter, and the battle between the two teams tied for fifth in the Western Conference went the Flames way.
Calgary played an excellent road game: they were aggressive on the forecheck and kept the Predators bottled up for stretches at a time in their own zone. They limited quality offensive chances. And Kiprusoff was solid in goal. Unfortunately, the Predators couldn't meet the challenge tonight.
This was a test for the Predators, and they failed. They needed more determination. They needed more desperation, especially earlier in the game when it was in the balance. And they needed their best players to be their best players. Tonight, they were not.
It is imperative that the Predators get production from their top line. Tonight the top line was invisible. This team will not win on a consistent basis if Jason Arnott, Steve Sullivan, and J.P. Dumont do not generate quality scoring chances and pot some goals. Tonight, this line was not determined or desperate.
It goes without saying that for the Predators to climb in the standings, they have to play Predator hockey. Hockey that is characterized by drive, determination, and yes, desperation. There was a glimpse of that tonight in the third period when they were down 2-0. Show that determination and desperation before you are in a hole, boys.
Determination. Driving the net. Beating the forecheck. Being strong on the puck. Desperation. Refusing to fall behind. Knowing that these are the type of games that steel you for the playoffs. Absolutely not allowing your opponent to dictate play. Traits of a winning hockey club. Absent tonight.
Time to re-focus. Time to determine that you will put your best effort on the ice every night. Play with desperation and dertermination. And you will not have to deal with defeat.