Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Predators End Losing Streak, Douse Flames

The Nashville Predators ended a dismal losing streak, the longest in franchise history, with a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames at Bridgestone Arena in front of their 20th sellout crowd in this abbreviated season.

The Predators came back twice from one goal deficits to capture the victory.

Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators and he faced 18 shots for the game, while Mikka Kiprusoff manned the pipes for the Flames and had to contend with 32 shots.

The Predators sent their fans home happy with an effort that can only be described as Predator hockey. The Predators hustled, fired pucks at the net, and scored by getting traffic in front of Kiprusoff.

Some observations:

Effort Was Exceptional

The Predators poured 32 shots on the Calgary net, and more importantly, did so with traffic in front. Goals by David Legwand and Nick Spaling were earned because they were in the hard areas in front of the net creating traffic and havoc in front of Kipper. It is one thing to shoot the puck, but for the Predators to be successful, they have to go to the net and disrupt. They did that very well tonight. They also did a good job of forechecking and slowing the Flames through the neutral zone. Their effort in all zones was solid and key to the victory.

Elementary, Mr. Watson

Austin Watson tallied his first NHL goal on a wrist shot from the slot. Watson has looked more comfortable in each of the games he has played at the NHL level and was rewarded tonight for his effort. Watson is a big body that has some upside and he needed this goal to boost his confidence. Now that it is out of the way, the hope is that he will find the net with some frequency.

Young Guns

In addition to Watson, Chris Mueller, Bobby Butler, and Filip Forsberg all got on the score sheet by recording assists. While the team has sorely missed some of the injured regulars, these young guys are getting some valuable ice time and they are contributing. While Predator fans are ruing the fact that the team will not make the playoffs, this trial by fire for the youngsters will pay dividends next season.

Legwand Leads

With his goal tonight, David Legwand he franchise leader in goals with 200. Congratulations to Legwand.

Halischuk Is Playing Outstanding Hockey

Matt Halischuk has elevated his game of late and the team has benefited. Halischuk notched his 5th goal of the season to give the Predators a 3-2 lead early in the third period. Halischuk has been strong on the puck and is taking it to the net and he has been rewarded for his efforts. He has been solid offensively as well as defensively and has taken a bigger role in the performance of the team. It's good to see his game grow and how he has responded to the challenge.

Final Thoughts

This losing streak and this season have been miserable. The positive aspects of this for the Predators are that there are players getting some invaluable experience in all situations and it will serve the team well in the coming seasons. The other aspect is that the team is forging character in this time of adversity. It is not going to be fun to watch the playoffs instead of participating in them. It is not fun losing. This team is tasting the bitterness of a sour season, and I believe they will learn from it and it will be a long term positive.

It had better be so.

My three stars:

1. Shea Weber

2. Roman Cervenka

3. Matt Halischuk

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