Saturday, January 18, 2014

Predators Can't Overcome First Period Hole, Fall to Avs 5-4

The Colorado Avalanche are a very skilled team. The Nashville Predators are not. So if the Predators were going to capture a win at Bridgestone Arena, they were going to have to play a full 60 minute game and bring the effort in all zones.

Forget all zones.

The Predators didn't bother to show up and embarrassed themselves in the first period as they dug a 3-0 hole. Their furious comeback could not overcome this deficit as the Predators fell 5-4 leaving a sellout crowd disappointed and frustrated.

The Avs controlled the first period and cycled the puck at will. All three of their first period goals came off strong puck possession and the cycle.

The Predators tallied a 5 on 3 power play goal in the second period to cut the deficit to 3-1 as Patric Hornqvist took a sweet pass from Mike Fisher at the top of the crease and buried the shot for his 10th goal of the season.

The Predators needed a strong start to the third period to get back into the game. Instead, they gave up 2 goals to the Avalanche to make it 5-1 and send fans scurrying to the exits.

Finally, the Predators woke up and got back into the game. Craig Smith, Ryan Ellis, and Roman Josi all scored to make it 5-4, but the Predators could not get the tying goal as Semyon Varlamov and the Avs held the Predators off the board.

Some observations:

  • GM David Poile should take a close look at the Avalanche. They are a team that has been built with skilled offensive players. That skill dominated the will of the Predators for most of the game. The Predators are built in such a way that they have to play a nearly perfect game to win against quality, skilled teams, and more often than not their will is not sufficient nor is their game close enough to perfection to beat skilled teams.

  • That said, kudos to the Predators for battling back. Down 5-1, they could have folded, but continued to fight. The deficit was too great to overcome and the team lacks the dangerous offensive threat to consistently put the puck in the net.

  • The Predators have the annoying habit of making average players look great. Tonight, Avs journeyman defenseman Nick Holden looked like the second coming of Ray Bourque, notching 2 goals.

  • Can we agree that Viktor Stalberg playing on the 4th line is a failed experiment? Stalberg didn't have the start that he wanted to this season, but he is defensively responsible and possesses great speed that his current line mates cannot match. While Stalberg languishes on the 4th line, Colin Wilson continues to get top line minutes while doing absolutely nothing. Perhaps the coaching staff needs to look at some line changes. As it is, the lack of productivity from Wilson does not justify his current role. tonight, Wilson had no shots on goal and was a -1.

  • Devan Dubnyk got his first start tonight. He wasn't great and wasn't altogether bad. There are a couple of goals that he would like to have back, but most were the result of the dominance of the Avs in the Predators offensive zone.

  • Craig Smith tallied his team leading 15th goal. This is a career high for the Honey Badger and he continues to play a solid game. He leads the team in scoring and continues to play a high tempo game and is creative offensively.

  • I had my doubts about mini-me, uh, Ryan Ellis. I was unsure as to whether he could handle the rigors of a full time role as a blueliner, but he is proving me wrong. he has played a more physical game and continues to produce offensively.
The start was brutal and the Predators could not overcome their ineptitude and lack of energy to begin the game and at the start of the third period.

The lack of consistency from this team will cost them a playoff spot. The lack of skill on this squad cannot overcome the grit or Predator "hard" or whatever we call it now.

The task for the Predators is just to try to gain consistency- hopefully good, positive consistency- every night.

My three stars:

1. Nick Holden

2. Nathan Mackinnon

3. Roman Josi

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