In their game the previous night against the L.A. Kings, the Nashville Predators did the little things that led to a victory. They controlled play in the neutral zone and forechecked aggressively. In their game against the Detroit Red Wings tonight, they did very little right and paid for it with a 5-2 loss.
If the Predators could make a mistake, they did so against the Wings. An egregious turnover by Kevin Klein, who had his pocket picked by Pavel Datsyuk right in front of goalie Dan Ellis led to Detroit's first score. Datsyuk came from behind Klein who was starting up the ice with the puck. He deftly lifted the puck away from the unsuspecting Klein and lifted a backhand over Dan Ellis, who had no chance to stop the shot.
Tomas Holmstrom made it 2-0 on the power play as he gathered in a rebound of a shot that had been deflected and put it into an open net at the 14:00 minute mark of the first.
The troubling thing about the first period was that all the positive aspects of the Preds game against L.A. completely disappeared. They were back on their skates and showed no aggressiveness. There was no offensive push from the Predators, and save for a shot from David Legwand that rang off the post, there were scant few quality scoring chances.
The second period was more of the same for the Predators. Nashville took a penalty :19 seconds into the period as Patric Hornqvist was called for tripping. The Preds were able to kill off the penalty, but shortly after the Wings Power play expired, Darren Helm made it a 3-0 advantage for the Wings as he rifled a shot over the shoulder of Dan Ellis. Ellis had gone down to the butterfly, and Helm perfectly placed the shot over the shoulder of the Predators netminder.
The Predators had a chance to get back in to the game as Jason Williams was in the box for hooking. Instead, disaster struck for the Predators as Ryan Suter and Dan Ellis had a miscommunication that allowed Helm to take control of the puck and put it past Ellis for a shorthanded goal and a 4-0 Red Wing lead.
With the Predators on their heels and frankly looking like road kill, J.P. Dumont tallied his 200th NHL goal on a nice give and go from Steve Sullivan to make it 4-1 at the 10:54 mark of the second. Although things looked grim, the Predators still had some life.
Joel Ward cut the margin to 4-2 at 3:15 of the third as he whistled a shot from just inside the face off circle past Jamie Howard for his 13th goal of the season. Unfortunately for the Predators, they could not generate any additional quality scoring chances or mount consistent offensive pressure. Henrik Zetterberg buried an empty netter with 3 seconds left in the game for the final margin.
Of particular concern to Predator fans is the health of Shea Weber. The big defenseman was checked from behind by Tomas Holmstrom and crashed into the boards and the ice. He appeared to have hurt his arm or wrist, and did not play after the first period.
This game was a polar opposite of the previous night's game, and the most disturbing aspect of this game was that no one on the Predators squad stepped up to provide a spark when one was desperately needed. This team exhibited no fire tonight in a game that could have provided more separation from a team that is frantically chasing them in the playoff race. Tonight, there was no heart on display by the Predators.
The Predators had ample opportunity to change the course of the game with four power plays. In these four powerplay opportunities, the Preds mustered only two shots TWO SHOTS! That is totally unacceptable and, as this game showed tonight, will cost them dearly.
We know that this team will not win out. No team in the NHL is going to do that. It is important to bring it every night, however, and tonight, the Predators mailed in their effort. This is the kind of outing that, if it occurs with regularity, will have the Predators cleaning out their lockers in April.
I am upset.Upset at the lack of consistency. Upset at the lack of Grit. Upset at the absence of heart and drive.
I hope the players are upset.
Look at how you played in the L.A. game, boys, and see what brought you victory. Look at the Wings game and see what got your head handed to you. Learn from your mistakes tonight. Learn what it takes to win. Incorporate that into your play every night and you will be fine.
Don't and you are going to get whipped some more.