The Nashville Predators are watching their season slowly- and painfully- slip away. The slide continued today with a 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars in the American Airlines Arena.
The Predators cannot catch a break, and they cannot manufacture enough offense to overcome a single mistake. This is a team that cannot seem to do anything positive to reverse their slide, wasting another solid goaltending effort by Pekka Rinne. Rinne made some amazing saves or the score would not have been as close as it was.
Tom Wandell scored the only goal of the first period, beating Rinne with a wrist shot high glove side.
The Predators would score two second period goals to take a 2-1 lead into the intermission. Ryan Suter would open the scoring at 5:00 of the period as he followed his shot and poked the rebound past Kari Lehtonen. Colin Wilson would score on a great hustle play at 13:32 as he beat a Dallas defenseman to gather in a rebound of a Cody Franson shot and knock a backhand past Lehtonen.
The wheels would start to come off (again!) in the third period for the Predators. Alex Goligoski flipped what appeared to be a harmless wrist shot from the point toward the net. The puck hit Jonathan Blum, took a crazy bounce, and hopped over the pads of Rinne for the tying goal.
It is apparent that the hockey gods are pissed at the Predators after a goal like that.
With the Predators down a man on a boarding call to Shea Weber, the Predators had a glorious scoring chance as David Legwand and Joel Ward broke in 2 on 1. Legwand flipped a nice saucer pass to Ward, who fanned on the shot. The Stars turned the puck back up the ice and Loui Eriksson buried a re-directed shot for the final margin of victory.
The Predators generated some pressure in the waning moments of the contest, but could not get a puck past Lehtonen.
The Predators have now lost four games in a row and have fallen from 4th in the West to 10th. This skid comes at the most inopportune time as teams are now starting to separate and establish playoff positioning. The Predators have been streaky all season, and if they are going to have a shot at the playoffs, the streak has to end now.
The offensive production of this team is struggling, and the players counted on to carry the load are not doing so. This team has the annoying tendency to watch Rinne bail them out time and again. As we have seen during this skid, one mistake is all it takes to wind up in a hole that this offense cannot overcome. The attack mode of the offense has disappeared, and it has been evident- painfully- during this losing streak.
How does it turn around?
When this team was winning games, they shot the puck and crashed the net. They scored dirty goals. They skated hard and forechecked aggressively, creating offensive opportunities.
It's time to get back to the basics, boys.
It is time to realize that your season is on the line. You can play yourselves back into playoff contention or you can watch your season go down the toilet. You can go balls to the wall or you can sit back and hope your goaltender steals a game.
I, for one, am tired of seeing you piss your season away. I hope you are, too.
The choice is yours.
My three stars:
1. Kari Lehtonen
2. Loui Eriksson
3. Ryan Suter