Another lackluster effort, another loss for the Nashville Predators as the Chicago Blackhawks had their way in a 4-1 win at the United Center. This loss was the first of the season to the Blackhawks, and it follows a pathetic 6-1 effort against Los Angeles in their last game.
The Nashville offense was listless at best, and rarely generated many quality scoring opportunities. The Chicago defense dominated the forwards of the Predators, rarely letting them enter the offensive zone with speed and winning nearly every puck battle. This is the second straight game that the Predators offense has disappeared, and that is both disappointing and unacceptable.
When the offense is not clicking, it is imperative that the defense and goaltending be very good. Neither were tonight. Anders Lindback got the start in net and was involved in a strange play that led to the Hawks first goal. Kevin Klein passed the puck back to Lindback, who in turn tried to pass the puck back to Klein. The pass missed Klein badly and came to Dave Bolland, who walked in alone and deposited the puck top shelf over Lindback's glove at 12:29 of the first period.
With Shane O'Brien in the box for interference, Jack Skille tallied on the power play at 9:28 of the second period. Skille blistered a shot over the glove side of Lindback, and the way the Predators offense was playing, the game was essentially over at that point.
Skille wasn't done, however, as he got a shot through a a screen from the high slot to beat Lindback at 9:14 of the third period.
Sergei Kostitsyn tipped a Marty Erat shot past Hawks netminder Corey Crawford at 11:13 of the third with the Predators on a power play. Any hopes of a comeback were snuffed out by Bryan Bickell as he beat Lindback glove side at 17:28 of the third.
What do the names J.P. Dumont, Steve Sullivan, Colin Wilson, Jerred Smithson, and Nick Spaling have in common? Five forwards for the Predators that did not have a shot on goal (yes, I know J.P. rang one off the post, but it is not officially a shot on goal). Quite frankly, this is a weak effort and cannot continue if the Predators are going to have success.
Success is a simple formula for the Predators: skate hard and bring the maximum effort to the rink every night. This is what this team did during their win streak. In the last two miserable losses, this team has not come close to giving the kind of effort that brings the opportunity for a victory.
The Predators can ill afford to win five games and then go on a five game losing streak. It is obvious that the effort has not been there the last two games, and we see the result on the ice and on the scoreboard.
It is time to stop the lackluster effort. It is time to stop the losing streak. Bring your best effort, and this skid will end.
Keep playing the way you have the last two games, and it will get ugly.
My three stars:
2. Corey Crawford
3. Dave Bolland