Okay, who is wearing the Predators sweaters and what have you done with the real team?
After going on a tear in the early part of December, the Predators have absolutely stunk up the joint in their last three games, this time falling to at best an average Ottawa Senators hockey team by a score of 2-1.
The game wasn't as close as the score indicated.
The Predators made the Senators look much better than they really are and made Brian Elliott, the Ottawa netminder look fantastic.
Merry Christmas. Enjoy your gifts.
In the first three minutes of the contest, the Predators were outshot 9-1. It didn't get much better as the game went on.
Sure, the Predators narrowed the shot total, trailing for the game 30-26, but the reality is that the Predators rarely challenged Elliott for the bulk of the contest. We certainly did a great job of making him look like a quality goaltender.
The Predator offense struggled all night, at times unable to get in the zone. When they did get in the zone, there was very little puck support and the puck was turned over frequently, often going the other way. The offensive zone presence of the Predators was abysmal. This continues the disturbing trend that has reared its ugly head in the three game losing streak that the Predators have endured.
The Predators welcomed back Pekka Rinne in net, and did nothing to help him throughout the night. I can fault Rinne for neither goal that was given up tonight, as the defense in front of Rinne once again broke down, as they often have in this three game slide.
Merry Christmas, Pekka.
The Sens first goal came when Cal O'Reilly threw a pass to Kevin Klein in the defensive zone that put Klein in an impossible position to handle the puck. Peter Regin slammed Klein into the boards with a clean check, got control of the puck, and flipped a back pass to Alexei Kovalev who was alone in the low slot. Kovalev beat Rinne high glove side as Francis Buillon and O'Reilly both were late to rotate back in coverage.
Ottawa made it 2-0 on the power play as Nick Foligno was left alone at the side of the net and buried the rebound off Rinne's pads for an easy goal.
The Predators cut the deficit to 2-1 as Marcel Goc tipped home a shot from Cody Franson, but that was the only offensive thrust that the Predators could muster.
The ineptness of the Predators offense was not helped when both Marty Erat and Steve Sullivan were lost to injury. Erat went hard into the boards and appeared to injure his back midway of the second period. Sullivan left in the third period with a lower body injury.
The Predators have now been outscored in their last three games by a margin of 12-3. The offense, once so effective in their early December streak, has seen the wheels come off. Their is no flow and no consistency from the forwards. The forecheck, once devastatingly effective, has disappeared. The Predators are now having trouble just entering the offensive zone.
The offense has to get their mojo back for this team to be successful. Right now, their is no semblance of that happening.
Two days off to enjoy the Christmas holiday may be what this team needs. Time to regroup and get their focus back.
If you believe in Santa, it's time to ask him to bring the Predators some offense.
We certainly need it.
My three stars:
1. Alexei Kovalev
2. Brian Elliott
3. Marcel Goc