Sunday, January 12, 2014

Predators Fail to Show, Whipped By the Wild

The Nashville Predators desperately needed to win their game against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. The Wild occupy the 8th spot in the West and sat 8 points in front of the Predators. Win this game, and the Predators close the gap to 6 points; lose and it balloons to 10 points.

The Predators needed to bring it and play a complete game.

Instead, they embarrassed themselves, losing 4-0 and rarely showing any fight and compete.

The Wild dominated the first period, scoring two goals and outshooting the Predators 11-5. Dany Heatley and Jason Zucker tallied to give the Wild a 2-0 lead, and for all intents and purposes, this game was over.

The Predators showed some life in the second period, but their old nemesis of being unable to finish scoring chances once again bit them. They out shot the Wild 9-3 but could not get a puck past Wild netminder Darcy Kuemper.

The Predators gave up two more goals in the third period to the Wild as Matt Cooke was left alone in the slot and beat a defenseless Marek Mazanec to give the Wild a 3-0 lead. Marco Scandella sent the crowd home early with a goal past a screened Mazanec.

Some observations:

  • The Predators lost most every puck battle tonight. The Wild wanted it more, and the Predators had no response. This shut down most of the offensive effort and was disappointing to say the least.

  • The Wild dominated the neutral zone. The Predators struggled all night just trying to get the puck through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone. The Wild had better jump and hustle than the Predators, and their intensity and effort shut down the Predators all night.

  • The Predators puck support was awful. The Predators had 17 giveaways, mostly attributable to the Wild surrounding the puck carrier and limiting options to move the puck. The ability to cycle the puck and create chances in the offensive zone is dependent on the Predators controlling the puck and giving options to the puck carrier. The Predators failed miserably at this tonight.

  • The Predators had two power plays and did not get a shot on net on the first one. The Wild PK had more energy and jump than the Predators PP units, and the ability to move the puck was limited by the hustle of the Wild.

  • David Legwand looked totally disinterested tonight. He recorded no shots on goal, had 3 giveaways, and was a -3 in 15:34 TOI. The Predators need more out of Legwand, and his level of play has been dropping off recently.

  • The Predators welcomed Patric Hornqvist back to the line up after missing two games with an injury. He recorded a team high 4 shots on net.

  • I can't really fault Mazanec on the goals he gave up tonight. Defensive breakdowns in front of him created magnificent scoring chances for the Wild and they capitalized.

  • Darcy Kuemper recorded his first career shutout. This was just his 10th NHL game.
The lack of compete by the Predators tonight is beyond disappointing. In a pivotal game, they failed to show up. There are no positives to draw from this loss.

The Predators are dangerously close to becoming an afterthought to this season, especially if their effort is as weak as tonight's.

A chance to make up some ground during a five game homestand has been wasted. There is one more game left at home to try to erase the bad taste of this effort.

It would be good to go out strong.

My three stars:

1. Dany Heatley

2. Darcy Kuemper

3. Charlie Coyle

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