Thursday, April 4, 2013

Predators Can't Beat Bobrovsky and the Blue jackets

The Nashville Predators dropped a 3-1 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena in a game that saw jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky stand tall and deny the Predators attack throughout the game.

The Predators fired 39 shots on net, and with the exception of a Kevin Klein goal in the second period, they were unable to solve Bobrovsky.

It certainly wasn't for a lack of effort by the Predators. They opened the game with good jump and attacked the Columbus net. Midway of the first period, the Predators had a 10-2 shot advantage and created some good scoring chances.

As has happened so often this season, however, the Predators were unable to finish their chances.

Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators, and although he gave up three goals, played a strong game as the Jackets were firing pucks as often as the Predators. The Jackets finished with 38 shots on goal.

Columbus opened the scoring on the power play as James Wisniewski scored from the blue line with a shot that went top shelf past a screened Rinne at 8:36 of the second period.

The Predators answered at 12:14 of the second as Kevin Klein crept down from the blue line and took a pass from Patric Hornqvist and beat Bobrovsky, who lost his stick in the traffic in front.

In the third period, the Jackets newest acquisition, Marion Gaborik, took a pass from Brandon Dubinsky and beat Paul Gaustad to the front of the net. Gaborik lifted the puck over Rinne to give the Jackets a 2-1 lead at 4:16 of the third period.

The Jackets made it 3-1 at 10:50 of the third as Matt Calvert fired a wrist shot that Rinne got with his blocker, but it bounced over his shoulder and into the net.

Some observations:

Fish Fights Back

The Predators welcomed back Mike Fisher, who had missed 4 games with an injured hand. It was apparent that Fisher was not 100% as the Predators played him on the wing and he did not take face offs. It appeared that the injured hand was still troubling Fisher as his ability to handle the puck seemed to be limited. Although Fisher was not able to get on the score sheet, he gave a gutsy effort all night.

Failing To Finish

While I cannot fault the effort by the team, and 39 shots on net is a great effort, the fact remains that the Predators have to finish some of their chances. Part of this is obviously the play of Bobrovsky, who was stellar. The Predators desperately need someone to take the puck strong to the net and finish some of their chances. It is also telling that the top three players with the most shots on goal were defensemen (Josi, 6 SOG; Klein, 6 SOG; Ellis, 4 SOG). The Predators need their forwards to develop a goal scorers mentality and find a way to bury some shots.

I Still Have My Doubts...

about the ability of Ryan Ellis to be a full time NHL blue liner. Ellis recorded 4 shots on goal and was a -1 tonight. My doubts arise from the fact that Ellis is consistently out muscled and tonight was knocked to the ice several times during scrums for the puck. Ellis was making his first appearance after a brief stint in Milwaukee, and while he gives good effort, his lack of size is a detriment to his game. The Predators can ill afford an under-sized defenseman that cannot match up with the opponents forwards.

The Best and Most Creative Player Offensively Is...

Roman Josi. Josi is smooth handling the puck, and when he jumps up in the offensive zone, is able to create some offensive chances. The Predators forwards need to take a few lessons from Josi.

Final Thoughts

With the loss, the Predators allowed Columbus to leap frog them in the standings. The Predators now sit in the 11th spot in the West with Chicago coming to town on Saturday night. Nashville is 15-15-8 and has 38 points. In the West, Detroit is playing at the time of this post and sits in 7th with 41 points and will have played 37 games. St. Louis is 8th with 40 points and 35 games played. Edmonton is playing and has 39 points and will have played 37 games. Columbus moves into the 10th spot with 39 points and 37 games played.

You can see the problem for the Predators: having played more games than the teams in front of them and needing points to get back into the playoff picture.

The next few games are going to determine if the Predators will be a playoff team or if they will hit the golf course at the end of the month.

There is only one way to avoid an early tee time.

Bring the effort every shift.

My three stars:

1. Sergei Bobrovsky

2. Marion Gaborik

3. Matt Calvert

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