Saturday, December 7, 2013

Same Song, Same Tired Refrain. Predators Fall to the Caps 5-2

The Nashville Predators traveled to the Verizon Center to take on the Washington Capitals and were in desperate need of a win. The Predators had just ended a four game home stand by losing every game, and faced a big challenge in the Capitals and their explosive offense.

Marek Mazanec was in net for the Predators, while the Capitals went with Braden Holtby.

Mazanec made a couple of stellar saves early in the period to keep the Caps off the board. Washington would get the first goal of the game, though as Troy Brouwer outmuscled Ryan Ellis in front of the net and was able to slide a backhand past the pads of Mazanec at 6:44 of the first period.

Rich Clune was called for interference at 13:06 and Alex Ovechkin fired a shot from the face off circle that caromed past Mazanec at 13:09.

So much for an effective penalty kill.

Karl Alzner made it 3-0 for the Caps with a blast from the blue line that beat Mazanec glove side at 16:19. this was just after Mazanec made 3 great saves in close after Kevin Klein had a give away in front of his net.

The Predators finally showed some signs of life as Roman Josi carried the puck into the zone a fired a wrist shot from outside the face off circle that beat Holtby over the shoulder to make it 3-1 at 19:38 of the first period.

The Caps out shot the Predators 14-12 in the first period.

the game was not out of reach- yet- but the Predators were going to have to get better goaltending and tighten up their effort in the defensive zone.

The Predators opened the second period skating better and firing shots on net. they created some great scoring opportunities, but could not finish their chances.

The Predators also played much better defensively, limiting the Caps shots and scoring chances. In the period, the Predators out shot the Caps 12-6.

If the Predators were going to get back in this game, they were going to have to do something that had been a struggle over the last 4 games, and that was finish their scoring chances.

At 3:39 of the third period, Nate Schmidt fired a puck from the blue line that beat an unscreened Mazanec stick side to make it 4-1.

The Predators made it 4-2 as Eric Nystrom broke in on a 2 on 1 and rather than pass, took a shot from inside the face off circle that beat Holtby to the far post at 3:52 of the period. Nystrom has a deceptively good shot, and he beat Holtby with a well placed shot.

The game turned into a pond hockey affair as both teams sped up and down the ice with scoring chances. The Predators tempted fate by giving up odd man rushes, and the Caps eventually made them pay as Eric Fehr buried a shot from the face off circle that beat Mazanec stick side to give the Caps a 5-2 lead at 14:50.

The Predators never threatened again after that score, and mercifully, the Caps did not score again.

Some observations:

  • The Predators welcomed Shea Weber back to the line up after taking a puck to the eye on Thanksgiving night against Edmonton. weber was wearing a visor, which I hope he continues to do for the remainder of his career. Weber is one of the players that is grandfathered under the CBA and he can choose not to wear a visor because of his tenure in the League.

  • The Predators scratched their second leading scorer, Craig Smith, in favor of Rich Clune. The logic of that move eludes me.

  • Mazanec had to make some quality saves. The score would have been more embarrassing except for some very good play in the net. The goal by Schmidt was one he would like to have back, as it was an unscreened shot that blew past him. Mazanec was beaten stick side twice tonight on shots that seemed stoppable.

  • Once again, the inability to finish scoring chances victimized the Predators. They put a lot of pucks on Holtby and he gave up rebounds, but we had difficulty finishing scoring chances in close.

  • The Predators faced some familiar players in Joel Ward and Marty Erat.

  • Patric Hornqvist took a big hit from Troy Brouwer late in the game and went to the locker room and did not return. It appeared that he hurt his shoulder again when he landed awkwardly on the ice.
This is a struggling team that is not playing good hockey. And that is a formula for falling far out of the playoff race.

If the Predators do not get back on track very quickly, this will be a long and dismal season.

My three stars:

1. Braden Holtby

2. Eric Fehr

3. Roman Josi

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