Friday, March 8, 2013

Predators Find Their Offense in 6-0 Drubbing of the Oilers

Desperately trying to end a three game skid and a goal scoring drought, the Nashville Predators got just what they needed to get healthy against a struggling Edmonton Oilers team at the Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators suddenly found their scoring touch in a 6-0 win before their 24th straight sellout crowd.

Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators, and recorded his 4th shutout of the season.

Colin Wilson led the way for the Predators offense with two goals and two assists.

Some observations:

The Killer B's

The Predators added forwards Bobby Butler and Zach Boychuk as waiver acquisitions and called up defenseman Victor Bartley from Milwaukee. All three had positive contributions to the win tonight.

Butler showed good jump and a willingness to god to the hard areas. His nose for the puck and ability to move his feet resulted in drawing three penalties against the Oilers. The Predators capitalized on two of the subsequent power plays.

Boychuk has incredible speed and offensive skills. The Predators just may be what he needs to get his game together and stick on an NHL roster. Boychuk made some slick passes, was strong on the puck, and re-directed a Shea Weber blast past Yann Danis for his first goal as a Predator.

I was very impressed with Bartley. He kept his game simple, made good passes on the breakout, and was solid in the defensive zone. Paired with Kevin Klein, he looked comfortable and did a good job of communicating with his partner on the blue line. Bartley even jumped in on several occasions in the offensive zone, and played with a great deal of poise.

The Push

Maybe it was the presence of the new players on the roster. Maybe it was the fact that there could now be some competition for ice time. Whatever the reason, the Predators played like the Predators tonight. They pushed the puck up the ice, played with jump, and looked for shots rather than passes. The Predators out shot the Oilers 34-24 and had a decided edge in offensive zone time.

This is the way the Predators have to play. Not fancy hockey. Simple hockey. Predator hockey. This is their formula to win games, and recently, the Predators had gotten away from that type of hockey. They will need to continue to play like they did tonight to keep winning.

The Wall

Rinne recorded his 4th shut out of the season, and although he was not seriously challenged, he did have to come up with a couple of big saves on Ryan Jones. Jones, a former Predator, had a shorthanded breakaway in the first period and another breakaway chance in the second period. Rinne stoned Jones on both attempts to keep the Oilers off the board and not allow the visitors to get some momentum.

Rinne is an excellent goalie, but has not had much help in front of him in recent games. Tonight, he was solid in net, making some timely saves, and the guys in front of him were much better. This is the combination that the Predators have to bring to the ice each game to win.

Wilson Wows

Colin Wilson played like many have believed he can play. Wilson went strong to the net for his first goal and his second goal was a rocket from the face off circle. Wilson dished out two assists and was strong on the puck and created offense. This is the kind of play the Predators need each game for the talented winger.

Clune Continues To Impress

Rich Clune isn't the most talented player on the Predators roster, but he plays with heart and effort every night. Clune got a goal by going to the hard area in front of the net, sliding home a rebound between the pads of Danis. He also went skate to skate with Oilers heavyweight Mike Brown in a first period fight. Clune skates hard and plays harder, something some of the other players on the roster should note.

Blind Hog

David Legwand scored on a fluke goal late in the first period, flipping the puck from the red line and skipping it past Dubnyk. This was Legwand's first goal since February 16th, and frankly, the Predators need much more from him.

I guess this goal proves the old adage that blind hogs do find acorns.

Hornqvist Hurt

Patric Hornqvist had a Patric Hornqvist goal to open the scoring by tipping a puck past Devan Dubnyk from in front of the net. That was the good. The bad was seeing Hornqvist crunched into the boards  in the second period by Theo Peckham on a questionable hit and leaving the ice with what looked to be a badly injured shoulder. Hornqvist went straight to the locker room and did not return to the game.

This was a game that the Predators had to have. Nashville now has 25 points at the halfway mark of the season. I believe that it will take 55 points to get into the playoffs.

If that is the case, the Predators can ill afford any more losing streaks and will have to elevate their play to get into the playoffs.

This game reinforced to the Predators what they have to do to win. Get pucks to the net, play with heart, and keep it simple.

This is the formula upon which this team has to build in the second half of the season.

It starts tomorrow night.

My three stars:

1. Colin Wilson

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Shea Weber

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