Points in the Western Conference race are precious. Every game becomes a must win game with the standings jammed with teams competing for playoff positioning. Unfortunately, the Nashville Predators don't seem to grasp the necessity of winning games right now, as they stunk in a 4-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The two teams engaged in a tight checking scoreless affair for two periods as Pekka Rinne and Steve Mason were solid in their respective nets. It would all fall apart for the Predators in the third period, however.
Rick Nash opened the scoring in the third period at 1:11 when he drove past Kevin Klein and poked the puck past Rinne to give the Jackets a 1-0 lead. The way the Predators were playing, one had the sick feeling that this goal would be enough.
The BJ's would make it 2-0 at 4:29 as Rinne had a mis-communication with his defenseman, Alexander Sulzer. Both went behind the Nashville net to play the puck with Nahville a man down. Neither played the puck and it bounced out the other side to Matt Calvert who stuffed the puck home into an empty net.
The BJ's would make it 3-0 as Antoine Vermette was left alone in front of the Nashville net and he had all day to jam a puck past Rinne.
Rick Nash scored at 19:10 on the power play to make it 4-0.
The Predator offense was invisible in this game, and that is extremely disappointing and unacceptable. The Predators did not do the tough things to win this game. They lost board battles all night; they did not put any traffic in front of Mason; and there was a general lack of toughness, both physical and mental.
In a word, the Predators did not have the desire to win this game. It showed in the third, in crunch time. This is a sign of mental toughness- or lack thereof. This team has shown the annoying habit of fading in crunch time.
Keep it up, and you will be on the outside looking in come playoff time.
It's time for this team to get some snarl, to play smart but with an edge. Right now, this team seems too content to sit back and absorb the punches from their opponent. The Predators have to be in attack mode to be successful.
There was no attack tonight.
And you were embarrassed and embarrassing.
You now have 22 games left. You are going to have to win, by my estimate, 15 of these games to make the playoffs.
It's time to understand how important these games are now. It's time to play with some edge and some desperation. It's time to stop making inferior opponents look great.
My three stars:
1. Rick Nash
2. Steve Mason
3. Matt Calvert