The Nashville Predators dropped a 5-2 decision to the Dallas Stars at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators are fielding a young squad of call ups from Milwaukee, their AHL affiliate, and the results were predictable against a Stars squad that is fighting for the playoffs.
With so many youngsters in the lineup and with the Predators out of playoff contention, the result is, in my view, not as important as the effort and progress that is shown by team.
And there was some good and not so good in that department.
Chris Mason got the start, and he gave up all five goal. Mace had a .722 save percentage, and while I don't fault him on several of the goals, he was spotty in net. Mason gave up a couple of goals on shots that were stoppable. When Mason was signed, it was hoped that he would give the Predators some quality starts and spell Pekka Rinne. It is safe to say that this experiment is a failure.
I like the hustle and heart of Patric Hornqvist. I don't believe that he is fully healed from his injured knee, but his compete level is the best on the team. Hornqvist battles and his motor is always going. Some veterans that are on the team could take a lesson from Hornqvist.
Taylor Beck scored by getting into the high traffic area of the slot. Bobby Butler scored his second goal and played with energy all night. Beck has a lot of potential, and his time with the Predators is good for his development and experience with NHL caliber competition. Butler is playing for a roster spot next season, and he needs to shine in these final games to make a good impression on the coaches.
Once again, David Legwand and Sergei Kostitsyn failed to contribute offensively. These two veterans arguably have some of the best offensive talent of any of the players on the roster. They combined for 3 shots on goal, and Kostitsyn even skated himself out of a shot on a breakaway opportunity. With a young roster, these players have to develop a nose for the net. After watching them play throughout the season, this appears to be an impossibility.
Austin Watson started to assert himself in front of the net, especially during the power play. Daniel Bang was physical. glimpses into the potential of two young players that are getting valuable experience in a difficult situation.
With this roster, the main things I would look for out of this team are heart and effort. I don't fault the effort tonight. The talent gap between an opponent's healthy roster and the young squad the Predators are putting on the ice is apparent and leads to the kind of results we saw tonight. The painful learning experience will pay dividends for this team down the road.
But it is going to be a rough road to travel for a while.
My three stars:
1. Richard Bachman
3. Ray Whitney