Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Predators Road Woes Continue With a 3-1 Loss to the Islanders

The Nashville Predators traveled to Long Island desperately seeking to change their fortunes against the Islanders. In their two previous games, the Predators had suffered numerous defensive breakdowns, shaky goaltending, and a dearth of goals.

That trend would continue in this game.

With David Legwand in the box after taking his second (??) consecutive elbowing penalty, John Tavares got forgotten in the low slot and he blasted a shot past Marek Mazanec for a 1-0 lead at 15:30.

Mazanec was getting his first NHL start. Welcome to the League, Marek

Pierre-Marc Bouchard made it 2-0 at 17:23 after the Islanders won an offensive zone face off. Bouchard took a shot from a severe angle that beat Mazanec 5 hole. Definitely a goal that Mazanec could not give up.

The Predators created some quality scoring chances, but could not solve Kevin Poulin. In the period, the Islanders out shot the Predators 16-10.

The Predators had now been out scored in the past 7 periods 12-0.

The Predators were faced with another uphill challenge. In the past two games, they had not responded to this kind of adversity. If they were going to get back into this game, they were going to have to ramp up their compete level.

The hill only got steeper 7:07 into the second period as Kyle Okposo blasted a shot from the right face off circle to make it 3-0.

The Predators could not get a puck past Poulin and the second period ended with the Predators in a 3-0 hole. The Predators held and 11-8 shot advantage in the period.

The Predators (FINALLY!!) scored at 14:30 of the third period as Patric Hornqvist fired a wrist shot that beat Poulin to end a nearly 9 period scoreless drought.

Despite a late flurry with a power play, the Predators could not score again, and they fell for the third straight game by a 3-1 margin.

Some observations:

  • A road trip that started with such promise has turned abysmal. In the early games of this roadie, the Predators were working hard in all zones and supporting the puck. In the past three games, the work ethic has fallen off and puck support has been virtually non-existent. The team has struggled to make clean entries into the offensive zone and when they do get the puck in the zone, the puck possession time has been awful. This has limited offensive chances and stymied the offense. If the predators are going to get back on a winning track, this has to improve quickly.

  • Goaltending was okay at best. Mazanec made some good saves, but he cannot give up that second goal. He was hung out to dry when Tavares was left alone in the slot on the first goal and the Okposo goal was a blast that would have been hard to stop.

  • The inability to enter the zone cleanly is killing the Predators. They are being slowed down in the neutral zone and their speed is being negated. This is a matter of system, support, and desire. Right now, the Predators are not good in any of these areas.

  • The Predators had some offensive flurries around the net, and Poulin made some good saves. There has to be a greater effort to get the puck to the net and to battle for rebounds. Again, this is a function of desire and effort.

  • The Predators were once again without Mike Fisher, who is out with a foot injury. They were also without Gabriel Bourque, who left the team to return to Nashville for the birth of his first child.
The Predators wrap up the road trip with a stop in Pittsburgh on Friday night.

It's time for this team to begin playing with some drive and desire.

My three stars:

1. John Tavares

2. Frans Nielsen

3. Pierre-Marc Bouchard

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