There are losses and then there are losses. Tonight, the Nashville Predators stunk up a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs with their worst period of hockey in the history of the franchise, giving up four- count 'em FOUR- power play goals to blow a game in a 5-4 loss.
The Predators jumped all over the Maple Leafs in the first period, going up 3-0 on goals by J.P. Dumont, Jordin Tootoo, and Marty Erat. The Predators dominated the majority of the period, forcing turnovers and making the Leafs pay. Dumont's goal came from great puck movement as he had an open net to shoot the puck into. Tootoo got on board with a great hustle goal by driving to the net. Marty Erat was the beneficiary of a turnover that he buried. Toronto netminder J. S. Giguere was under siege for most of the period and the Predators looked as if they were going to dominate the night.
The Predators continued their annoying habit of giving up a goal late in a period as Luke Schenn cut the lead to 3-1 with a goal at 19:30 of the first.
The Predators would take the first of SIX penalties in the second period as Francis Buillon was in the box for holding. The Predators PK would make Toronto pay as Marcel Goc poked the puck away at the blue line and beat Giguere on the break away to make it 4-1 Predators.
It was at this point that the Predators would completely fall apart and begin a parade to the penalty box with a slew of penalties, the result of undisciplined play.
Toronto would score on four of the next five power plays, and what should have been a commanding lead for the Predators disintegrated into a 5-4 deficit. Without a doubt, this was a disgusting and disappointing display of hockey by a team that usually plays with much better discipline.
Giguere was injured in the third period, and Jonas Gustavsson would come into the game to finish it out for the Leafs. The Predators generated several chances, but could not solve The Monster. When the final horn sounded, the Predators limped off the ice with an utterly embarrassing loss on the books.
These are the types of games that this team cannot afford to give away. The Maple Leafs are a sorry team, having lost nine games in a row. The Predators made them look like a playoff team with their play tonight. These are the kinds of losses that are haunting.
This game points to the lack of mental toughness of the Predators. I can't argue with any of the penalty calls. We were undisciplined. The penalty kill, always a prime indicator of the toughness of any team, looked inept and lost. Any time you have a team down 3-0 and 4-1, you should put your skate on their throat and not let them up. The Predators were, unfortunately, soft, letting the Leafs claw back into this game.
This is unacceptable and embarrassing.
An 82 game season is a physical grind. It is also a mental grind. It requires a team to be mentally strong and tough. I have my doubts about the Predators mental toughness.
It is time for this team to get tough mentally. The mental aspect is as important as the physical aspect of the game. Mental toughness often decides the outcome of a contest.
Coach Trotz talks about the resiliency of this team. That is a good characteristic to have, and this resiliency is now going to be tested. Coming back from a loss like this is difficult. It will be interesting to see how mentally tough this team will be, to see if they can put their game back together.
Here is a thought: play tough for sixty minutes and put teams away. Don't let them back into the game. Don't get embarrassed like you did tonight against a lesser opponent.
Then you won't have to test that resiliency so much.
My three stars of the night:
1. Kris Versteeg
2. Clarke McArthur
3. Marcel Goc