The Chicago Blackhawks evened their season series with the Predators at three apiece with a 3-0 shutout at the Bridgestone Arena.Tomas Kopecky, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp (empty netter) scored for the Hawks. No one showed up for the Predators on offense.
The shot totals for this game showed that the Predators outshot the Blackhawks by a 31-25 margin, but the Predators rarely made Corey Crawford work hard for a save. Yes, there was some desperation in the waning minutes of the contest, and Crawford had to make some key saves late. The fact remains that for the most, the Predators shot the puck right into the chest of Crawford and generated rare traffic in front of the net.
Pekka Rinne made some outstanding saves for the Predators, and without his effort, the score would have been much worse.
I feel badly for Pekka. He is an outstanding netminder that is getting absolutely zero offensive support in the last couple of games.
The Predators have fallen from 4th in the Western Conference to 8th, and run the risk of playing themselves out of the playoffs. The troubling aspect of the Predators play of late has been the impotent offensive effort. The offense has not challenged in the last two games- both shutout losses- and has struggled over their last 8 games, tallying a meager 12 goals over that span.
Here are the damning totals for the game tonight: Erat 3 SOG; Legwand 2 SOG; Fisher 2 SOG; Wilson 1 SOG; Dumont 1 SOG; Spaling 1 SOG; Sullivan, Tootoo, Kostitsyn, Spaling- all 0 SOG. The top line for the Predators mustered only five shots on goal.
This team is successful when they shoot the puck, crash the net, and score dirty goals. Inexplicably, the Predators have stopped doing that. This team has developed a mentality of pass first and shoot only when you have to, and boys, this is a formula for an early tee time in April.
This is a team that has currently lost its identity. There is not an edge to their play; the grit is gone. They have gotten away from shooting the puck and generating traffic. Yes, I know they outshot the Hawks, but they did not put pressure on the net. Traffic in front of these shots and in front of Crawford was virtually non-existent, and Crawford was given a clean look at the puck most of the night. With the offensive make up of this team, this type of play will not yield success.
So what to do?
In my view, this team has to shoot the puck. Stop passing up shots. More importantly, they have to crash the net and generate the traffic in front of an opposing goaltender. Make his life miserable. right now, they have it easy when they play the Predators.
Perhaps more importantly, this team had better develop a sense of urgency. They are risking missing the playoffs with this kind of play.
This is the playoffs right now guys.
And the question that all your fans are asking is "How badly do you want it?"
Frankly, I don't know the answer to that question.
I do know that you have the next few games to answer that question.
My three stars:
1. Tomas Kopecky
2. Patrick Kane
3. Corey Crawford