Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sharks Stymie the Predators 3-1

When opposing goalies face the Nashville Predators, they should refund part of their pay.

They are certainly not having to work hard to earn their check.

Once again, the Predators were outshot by a wide margin, 36-20, in falling again at home 3-1 to the San Jose Sharks. For the year, the Predators are winless at home.

I cannot fault the effort of the Predators. They skated hard all night. The painful fact is that the Predators have no finishers now- guys that can get the puck on the net or in the net. And until that changes, the Predators are going to struggle mightily.

In the first period, the Predators were outshot 17-7. The Predators did a good job of breaking out and getting the puck in the offensive zone, but once in the zone were unable to generate any quality scoring chances. Antii Niemi got the start for the Sharks, and was never really threatened in the first period. Or the second period for that matter.

Logan Couture opened the scoring for the Sharks at 14:22 of the first period as the Predators gave up their first shorthanded goal of the season. Couture broke in past the defense and fired as shot that starting netminder Pekka Rinne stopped with his pad. Couture continued to the net, beating the Predators defense back to the puck and flipped a rebound over the Rinne's shoulder for the Sharks first tally.

The lack of serious scoring chances by the Predators made this goal look as if it would stand up as the game winner.

After a scoreless second period that saw the Predators outshot by a 10-5 margin, the outloof for the home team was grim. I cannot explain the lack of chemistry or offensive push by this team. Once they enter the offensive zone, it is as if they go into a shell and cannot figure out how to get shots on net. The secret to the Predators success has been to shoot the puck and crash the net. The first part of that formula is to shoot the puck, something the Predators have failed to do in every game.

There was fight left in the Predators in the third period, as Jordin Tootoo, who had a very solid game, absolutely blasted Logan Couture with a clean check. Ryan Clowe came over and dropped the gloves to fight, saw that it was Tootoo that he would be matched up with, and proceeded to turn tail and run.Clowe was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, and on the ensuing power play, Craig Smith was able to jam the puck home from in front of the net to tie the game at 13:12 of the third period.

The Sharks sucked all the life out fo Bridgestone Arena with a Joe Pavelski goal at 14:09. Pavelski beat Rinne glove side as he was late sliding back across to the post. Pavelski would add an empty net goal at 18:48 to seal the win for the Sharks.

The Predators have always relied on the solid play of Rinne, but the fact is that early in this season, the team has leaned too heavily on their netminder. Their failure to shoot the puck and get scoring chances means that Rinne has to be perfect every night, and that is a tall order for any goalie.

Until this team develops a scoring mentality, they will struggle. Right now, there is now pure goal scorer on this team. This simply means that the Predators have to get back to shooting the puck and crashing the net. This team is not doing this, and until they do, the losses will pile up.

The team welcomed back Francis Buillon and Mike Fisher, and their contributions were noticeable. Fisher had an assist on Smith's goal and logged 19:30 in ice time. Buillon had 17:30 in ice time and was even in plus/minus for the night.

The predators continue to be a work in progress. Here is the stark fact this team has to overcome: Fisher, Patric Hornqvist, Jerred Smithson, Matt Halischuk, Blake Geoffrion, and Brian McGratten (why is he in the line up again?) all had no shots on goal. Sergei Kostitsyn, Colin Wilson, and Nick Spaling all had one shot on gaol. That is nine forwards with one shot or less.

That is unbelievable and unacceptable.

It is time for this team to realize that no shot is a bad shot. NO shots are bad. The difference is not subtle. This team will not win with this kind of effort.

See the opposing team's net, guys. That is where you HAVE to shoot the puck.

It really is a simple game.

My three stars:

1. Joe Pavelski

2. Logan Couture

3. Craig Smith

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