Saturday, March 1, 2014

Jets Shoot down the Predators 3-1

The Nashville Predators faced the Winnipeg Jets in a game that they needed to win to remain relevant in the playoff chase. The Predators gave it a good shot, in fact 40 of them, but could only get one past Jets netminder Ondrej Pavalec in a 3-1 loss at Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators used their power play unit to capture a win in their previous game, going 3 for 4 with the man advantage.

Tonight, the power play was 0-6 as the jets used their number one ranked road penalty kill to throttle the Predators.

And that points out the major weakness of this team.

They are not good enough to consistently score at even strength.

Now there is no doubt Pavalec played an outstanding game, but often the Predators had quality scoring chances they could not finish.

And that is the story of their season.

The Jets scored first when the defensive coverage lost Olli Jokinen and he skated in on predators goaltender Carter Hutton and roofed a shot over his shoulder to make it 1-0 at 5:02 of the second period.

The Jets made it 2-0 as Andrew Ladd re-directed a Zach Bogosian shot through traffic past Hutton at 18:18 of the second period.

Simon Moser made it 2-1 at 9:11 of the third period as he re-directed a shot from Mickael Del Zotto  and (finally!) past Pavalec and gave the Predators some life.

That flicker of hope was snuffed out as Blake Wheeler beat Shea Weber down the boards and put a shot on net that Hutton kicked out. Devin Setoguchi snapped a shot past Hutton to make it 3-1 at 16:08.

The Predators could not get any pucks past Pavalec even with the extra attacker for the final 1:40 of the game, and a must win game became a crippling loss.

Some observations:

  • Moser's goal was his first in the NHL. I like his hustle and his play, and hopefully this will be the first of many goals for him.

  • Roman Josi seems to grow in confidence and his play improves every game. Josi is one of the better puck handlers- if not the best- on the team. he makes good decisions with the puck and is a confident and smooth skater. He also plays a ton of minutes, usually against the top forward line of the opposition. Tonight, he had 27:44 TOI.

  • Michael Del Zotto picked up the primary assist on the goal by Moser. I like MDZ's game and I think as he continues to settle in with the team, he will prove to be a valuable addition.

  • David Legwand just looks disinterested to me. He is not strong on the puck and their is not a bit of offensive creativity or jam in his game.

  • The Predators put 40 shots on Pavalec and he made some outstanding saves. The fact is though, that the Predators have to finish some of those chances, and as long as they continue to struggle at even strength their chances of sneaking into the playoffs is virtually non-existent.
This was a game the Predators had to win to make of ground on a team that is just in front of them in the standings. The opportunity was lost, and possibly the post season.

The effort and hustle by the team was good, but the lack of finish doomed them.

Now they have to respond and bring this effort on Tuesday against the Penguins.

And finish their chances.

My three stars:

1. Ondrej Pavalec

2. Andrew Ladd

3. Simon Moser

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