Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Kings Pummel the Pitiful Predators

The Nashville Predators were looking to salvage their three game West coast swing with a win against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. The Predators had dropped their first two games of this important road trip and had looked awful in the process.

The task before the Predators was simple: get the puck on net and get find their scoring touch. As simple as that sounded, it was a monumental challenge for this offensively impaired squad.

Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators, while the Kings had Jonathan Bernier between the pipes.

The first period was scoreless, with the Predators outshooting the Kings 5-3. The Predators defensive effort was solid as they did not allow a shot on net by the Kings until there was 4:30 remaining in the period. Offensively, the Predators created a few chances but did not generate a consistent offensive push.

The Kings opened the scoring on the power play at 5:28 of the second period as Jeff Carter shoveled a puck toward the net that hit Rinne's pad and skittered through the five hole for a 1-0 lead. The man advantage was set up because of a high sticking penalty on Craig Smith.

That was the only tally of the second period. The Predators out shot the Kings 8-3 for a two period total of 13-6, but had shown no ability to solve Bernier. The Predators would have 50 seconds of carryover power play time to begin the third period.

Jeff Carter got his second goal of the night as the Kings broke in 2 on 2 against the Predators. David Legwand was late in covering Jeff Carter, who got loose in the low slot and beat Rinne, who had no chance on the shot at 4:39 of the third period.

Just 19 seconds later, Carter stole the puck from Roman Josi and broke in alone and beat Rinne to make it 3-0.

The way the Predators offense had sputtered, the Kings lead was probably safe at 1-0. With a 3-0 advantage, the lead would be insurmountable.

The Kings made it 4-0 on the power play as Mike Richards blasted a one timer from the face off circle past Rinne at 7:40.

In a game the Predators desperately needed, they folded their tent, pissed on the fire, and called the dogs home in the third period.

Absolutely awful play by the Predators.

The Kings made it 5-0 at 10:54 as Dwight King beat Gabriel Bourque down the slot and ripped a shot past Rinne.

That was all for Rinne, as he had been hung out to dry by his teammates. Chris Mason entered the game to face the onslaught of the Kings.

Gabriel Bouque ruined Bernier's shutout as he whipped a shot from the slot that went just under the crossbar to make it 5-1 at 13:05.

Fortunately for the Predators, the Kings did not embarrass them further and, mercifully, the clock ran out on this debacle.

Some observations:

  • In general, this team has of late shown no fire and no push back. This is very disturbing. If this team has lost heart and fails to play with character and the grit they have typically shown, this season will get awfully ugly. This team lacks the talent to win on talent alone. They win with heart. Without that, this team is going to get pummeled.

  • It is a sadly repetitive refrain, but once again, the usual suspects were invisible offensively. Legwand, Colin Wilson, and Sergei Kostitsyn had zero shots. Mike Fisher had 1. This is totally unacceptable. When the coaching staff is preaching- no, pleading, for the guys to shoot the puck and your "leaders" and top line players are not doing that, there is a serious problem. It is time for Trotz to begin to take away ice time if these guys are just going to float.

  • I make no secret of my disdain for David Legwand. He is an offensive liability. Tonight, he was a defensive liability, especially at a critical point in the game. For what he is getting paid, I expect more from him. Lots more.

  • Pekka Rinne has to be frustrated. He knows that if the other team scores, the Predators are in trouble. He is having to be perfect every night for the Predators to have a chance. The first goal tonight was on him, as he just misplayed the puck. The next four he was hung out to dry by the players in front of him. Pekka is a great goalie, but no goalie can be perfect in every outing, and his is getting no help from the team in front of him.

  • The truth is that the Predators are not a playoff team. Hell, they are not a very good team as they are constructed. It is past time for General Manager David Poile to look at this roster and tear it apart and rebuild the team.
The Predators have slipped out of the playoff race. The question is will they have the character and the desire to get back into it?

Or, how far will they fall?

My three stars:

1. Jeff Carter

2. Jonathan Bernier

3. Gabriel Bourque

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