The Nashville Predators dropped a 1-0 game one decision to the Vancouver Canucks in a game that saw the Predators play some of their worst hockey in the playoffs. Sure, the score was only 1-0, but without the amazing play of Pekka Rinne, the score could have been embarrassing. By contrast, Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo was rarely challenged by the Predators offensive effort.
This is the second round of the playoffs, and the Predators found out quickly that the intensity ramps up markedly in the second round. The Canucks were flying and generating quality chances while the Predators could not muster much in the way of offense. This was evidenced by the fact that the Canucks out shot the Predators by a 16-5 margin in the opening frame.Even more disturbing was the fact that the Predators looked disjointed and out of sync throughout the opening frame.
Fortunately for the Predators, the Finnish Wall, Pekka Rinne, was on his game, swallowing up shots and giving up only one rebound opportunity. The Predators managed to kill off two penalties with the stellar play of Rinne in net, but the fact is that the Canucks had several glorious scoring chances both on the PP and at even strength.
It was going to be imperative that the Predators offense join the party if they were going to have a chance to win this game. Relying strictly on the play of Rinne to keep them in the game was going to be disastrous.
Yet Rinne would keep the Predators in this contest. The Canucks continued to dominate the play in the second period, outshooting the Predators 13-6 and holding a 29-11 margin through the two period of play. Rinne made great save after great save, while the team in front of him lost puck battles and gave up the neutral zone.
The Predators were tempting fate.
That style of play finally came back to bite them at 12:14 of the second as Chris Higgins got loose in the low slot and roofed a shot over a sprawling Rinne. The Predators defense was caught running around and lost Higgins who had an uncontested shot to beat Rinne.
The Predators had been absolutely outplayed through two periods, and fortunately only trailed by one goal. Everything that is Predator hockey- sound defense, aggressive forechecking, and controlling the neutral zone- were completely absent in the first two periods of play. The Predators ere getting outworked in all phases of the game.
With 20 minutes left, the Predators were going to have to show the mental resolve and fortitude to change their fortunes.
The Predators generated more offense and a better compete level in the third period, where they out shot the Canucks 9-4. Mike Fisher and his line was particularly strong. yet the Predators could not get a puck past Luongo. When the Predators created some chances, the Canucks netminder was up to the challenge the Predators presented.
The Predators pulled Rinne for an extra attacker with one minute left, but it was to no avail for their offense, and the clocked ran out with the Predators looking at a 1-0 game and series deficit.
Can there be positives to be taken from this game?
The Predators were outplayed by the more talented Canucks for 50 minutes in this contest, yet lost by one goal. Pekka Rinne was outstanding in net. The Predators finally decided to play late in the game and showed they could create a lot of problems for the Canucks.
Here are the secrets, boys: the Canucks put their jock straps on just like you do. The game is 60 minutes, not the final 10.
Stop standing around in awe of these guys. You skate just as well as they do. Start hitting. These pretty boys don't like the contact and the gritty game. Amp up your intensity. This is your game, but you have to play your game from the opening faceoff to the final whistle.
Oh yeah, shoot the puck. Make Luongo work. Stop looking for the pretty pass and go get the dirty goals.
You know what all that is, boys?
And it is time to start playing that game.