Saturday, March 8, 2014

Predators Shoot Blanks in 1-0 Loss to the Jackets

The Nashville Predators were attempting to launch themselves into playoff contention after the Olympic break, and a 5 game home stand seemed the perfect way to do that.

Instead, the Predators crashed and burned, going 1-4 in those five games, the last of which was a 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena in front of a sellout crowd.

Pekka Rinne was superb, making some high quality saves until Artem Anisimov finally poked a puck past Rinne with 6:25 left in the contest.

Rinne watched his mates come out flying in the first period as the Predators used their speed to create space and offensive chances. They rang a puck off the post and had one nearly dribble past Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky before being swept off the goal line by a Columbus defender.

The Predators out shot the Jackets 14-5 in the first period, and Predator fans must have felt that effort would yield results in the final 40 minutes.

Instead, the Jackets dominated the Predators in the second period, out shooting them 15-4.

The third period saw the Jackets continue their domination until a very late flurry from the Predators. The Predators came close to tying the game when Mike Fisher hit a post with 30 seconds left in the game.

The Jackets still out shot the Predators 16-10 in the final frame.

Some observations:

  • The Predators offense completely disappeared after the first period. The Jackets elevated their game and the Predators did not, and if not for the solid effort by Rinne, the score could have been embarrassing for the Predators.

  • The chemistry among the lines seems to have completely disappeared. Passes are missing targets and the Predators inability to skate the puck into the offensive zone is killing this team. Resorting to a dump and chase game means the forwards have to win battles and control the puck, and the Predators are rarely doing that during the course of a game.

  • The Predators are still skating hard and competing, but it is a lot of effort that is yielding sparse results. The Predators scored just 6 goals in this five game home stand, and this anemic level of production means that Rinne has to be perfect. As hard as he competes, he is not that, and the lack of offensive support has to be incredibly frustrating.

  • With the lack of production and the playoffs not happening, it would seem to make sense to bring up some of the young guys like Forsberg and Jarnkrok from Milwaukee. They certainly could not be any less productive than what is on the ice right now. Remember that the classic definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

  • The Predators killed off all 5 penalties, including a 4 minute double minor on Viktor Stalberg. The Predators once potent power play again shot blanks, going 0-3.
Not much that one can say about this game or this team that hasn't already been said. management must take a hard look at this roster in the offseason and commit to getting some consistent, high level scoring in here.

Fail to do that and the Predators will continue to frustrate their fans.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Sergei Bobrovsky

3. Artem Anisimov

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