Saturday, October 25, 2014

Predators Blanked by the Penguins 3-0

The Nashville Predators knew a regulation loss would eventually happen.

It did at the Bridgestone Arena as the Predators fell 3-0 in a lackluster effort against a very good Pittsburgh Penguins team.

The Predators gave up a first period goal to Sidney Crosby on a shot from in close with lots of traffic around Pekka Rinne.

They gave up two power play goals in the first six minutes of the third period, one to Evgeni Malkin and Pascal Dupuis.

Game over.

After an energetic first period, which saw the shots in favor of the Penguins 10-8, the Predators offense was dominated by the Penguins defense and rarely challenged Marc-Andre Fleury. The Predators were out shot 12-4 in the second period and the offense was non-existent.

Although the Penguins only had 4 shots in the third period, they capitalized on two of them for scores on the power play. The Predators had 13 shots in the third, but few quality scoring chances.

The Penguins employed a heavy and aggressive forecheck and used their speed to totally discombobulate the Predators. The Predators rarely had a clean breakout through the neutral zone and could not find any offensive flow in the zone. As a result, their offense never got going the entire game.

Some observations:

  • The Predators are the last team in the NHL to absorb a regulation loss. They are now 5-1-2.

  • In six of their 8 games, the Predators have given up the first goal. While they have shown resilience and have been able to overcome those deficits (until tonight), this is not a trend that needs to continue.

  • The Predators have shown that they have difficulty handling an aggressive forecheck. tonight, the Penguins controlled the play throughout the game by pressuring the puck and disrupting the breakouts. If the Predators can't get a clean break through the neutral zone, the offense really struggles. This is an area that is going to have to improve.

  • The Predators anemic power play, which was connecting at only 8.7% of their chances coming in to this game, was 0-3 tonight. There just isn't a lot of movement among the players on the man advantage unit, and it makes it very easy to defend. Here is a blinding flash of the obvious- the power play unit is going to have to improve quickly if this team is going to have success this season.

  • No shows: Olli Jokinen, Calle Jarnkrok (8 games), and Viktor Stalberg (5 games) do not have a point this season. For the amount of ice time they are receiving, these players are going to have to start contributing.

  • Almost no shows: Colin Wilson and Craig Smith have not been productive of late. These guys are too talented not to produce and they have to get their game going quickly.

  • The Predators welcomed back Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling with a nice tribute video. Hornqvist and Spaling were traded to the Pens for James Neal.

  • The Predators were 42% in the face off dot. Paul Gaustad won 71% of his face offs (5 of 7). Roy ( 1 of 6), Jokinen (3 of 10), and Ribeiro (5 of 14) continue to struggle.

  • Rinne didn't get a lot of help tonight. Fleury was rarely challenged. This speaks volumes to the talent of the Penguins and to the play of the Predators. While the Predators don't have the talent of the Penguins, when they play as they did Thursday night against Chicago, they have shown they can compete and win games. tonight, they were completely stymied and did not elevate their game.
The Predators now go on the road for the nest two weeks due to the CMA's and their events at Bridgestone Arena. This will be a real test for the team and we are going to find out a lot about this group.

They have the potential to make some noise in the Central. the game tonight proves that this group has to play at a high level to have a chance to win games.

We are going to find out if they can consistently do so.

My three stars:

1. Sidney Crosby

2. Evgeni Malkin

3. Pascal Dupuis

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