Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Predators Offense Disappears in a 3-1 Loss to the Canucks




Lopsided baseball scores?

No. These were the shot totals in the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 victory over the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena. Nashville was the leader after the first period and after that, the Canucks trapped the life out of the Predators and controlled the game to secure the win.

2 shots in the third period?

Holy shnikey!

A scoreless first period saw both teams probing the defense and occasionally challenging the opposing netminder. Both Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne were up to the task.

In the second period, the Predators got on the scoreboard first as Jonathan Blum fired a shot that Luongo kicked out with his pad. Mike Fisher gathered in the rebound and ripped a shot over the fallen Luongo for his third goal in the last two games. The goal came at 14:01.

Unfortunately, that was it offensively for the Predators.

Going into the third period, the Predators were going to be challenged by the Canucks. That was a given. The Predators did not help their cause by giving up a score just 1:17 into the period as Alex Burrows, villain extraordinaire for the Predators, roofed a shot over the shoulder of Rinne to tie the game.

Burrows would give the Canucks a 2-1 advantage at 17:31 as he would score on a breakaway. Aaron Rome would add an empty netter at 19:51 for the final margin.

The disappointing aspect of this game was that the Predators offense completely disappeared in the third period. They were not very effective in the second, but in the third period they could not handle the trap that the Canucks employed and were completely stymied. As Head Coach Barry Trotz said after the game, the Predators got too cute, trying to make pretty passes rather than dumping the puck in the zone and retrieving it and establishing their offense. This played right into the hands of the Canucks and the Predator offense was impotent in the third period.

With the win, the Canucks evened their season series with the Predators. The Predators still stand at 92 points and their record falls to 41-26-10.

Kudos to the Predators PK, who killed all five man advantage that the Canucks had, but one has to wonder if the PK effort didn't sap something out of the offense.

The important point about this loss is that the Predators have to learn they are not a "cute" team. They are a team that has to get the dirty goals, they are a team that has to possess the puck and get through the neutral zone and establish their offense. Failing to stick to what has made them successful will result in the kind of showing that occurred tonight.

Perhaps more importantly, the Predators got a taste of what real playoff hockey will be like. There is no easy space on the ice. It takes grit and hard work and sticking to your system to make plays and generate scoring opportunities. Tonight, the Predators did not do that.

Learn from this and start a new winning streak. Don't and the playoffs will be painful.

My three stars:

1. Alexander Burrows

2. Roberto Luongo

3. Mike Fisher

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