Monday, December 23, 2013

Bruins Blast the Hapless Predators 6-2

The Boston Bruins visited the Bridgestone Arena to face the Nashville Predators in the last game before the Christmas break. The Predators were certainly in the holiday spirit, giving the Bruins the opportunity to score early and often.

The Predators even went as far to make the visitors welcome as letting them score on the first shot of the game.

Once again, the Predators dug a 3-0 hole in the first period, but this time they could not climb out. Cutting the deficit to 3-2 in the second period on Craig Smith's second goal of the game, the Predators proceeded to take to consecutive penalties and gave up a 5 on 3 power play.

It was never close after that.

You can read the carnage, uh, box score here.

The final was 6-2 for the visiting Bruins.

Some observations:

  • I will make a point I made several weeks ago: the status of Pekka Rinne was uncertain entering this season. GM David Poile made a decision not to go with an experienced back up, instead going with AHL netminder Carter Hutton. This strategy would have worked if Rinne could have played 65-70 games. We all know that didn't happen, and now with back ups like Ilya Bryzgalov and Tim Thomas off the market, the Predators are left with two AHL caliber netminders. While both Hutton and Marek Mazanec have played well in brief stretches, the fact is that they are no ready to carry a full NHL workload. This has been reflected in their erratic play. This is a strategic gamble taken by Poile that has backfired, and it is costing the team.

  • The lack of elite forwards obviously hurts the Predators in scoring, but the inability of the forwards to carry the puck into the offensive zone is killing this team. Playing a dump and chase game is predicated on winning the chase and this team is not doing that. Is it effort or lack of talent? A combination of both. The Predators cannot make a clean entry into the offensive zone with this group of forwards, and too often, they lose puck battles and cannot retrieve the puck. The effort expended just to get into the offensive zone limits the production of the forwards. Tonight, the Bruins forced the Predators to work extremely hard just to get into the zone and more often than not were able to quickly clear the zone, forcing the Predators to chase down the puck and try to establish a zone presence.

  • As constructed, the potential of this team to change their fortunes is virtually non-existent. The ability to control the puck in the offensive zone is limited, and the number of consistent scoring threats on this team is scarce.

  • That said, I do like the effort of Craig Smith. He notched two goals tonight and has been playing some good hockey. Smith has the skill set to be elite, but he needs to be consistent.

  • How do we keep taking too many men on the ice penalties? This lead to a Boston power play goal tonight, and I find it incredible that at this stage of the season we are still making these mental errors.
The Predators are an average hockey team playing bad hockey.

This is a formula for a losing streak.

The Predators are proving that formula.

My three stars:

1. Carl Soderberg

2. Craig Smith

3. Reilly Smith

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