Thursday, December 11, 2014

Predators Use Fast Start, Strong Finish to Crush the Coyotes

The Nashville Predators traveled to Phoenix to take on a struggling Arizona Coyotes team. While the Coyotes have struggled so far this season, this was a team that the Predators could not take lightly. The Coyotes desperately needed a win and they would like nothing more than to secure one against the Predators who had beaten them in a shootout earlier this year in Nashville.

Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators while Mike Smith was between the pipes for the Coyotes.

Antoine Vermette opened the scoring for the Coyotes on the power play at 4:11 of the first period. Vermette was alone in the high slot and beat Rinne, who was screened on the play.

Once again, the Predators found themselves in a hole to open the game. They would need to respond and get momentum back on their side.

They did just that in a big way.

Mike Fisher answered on a Predators power play as he redirected a pass from Shea Weber past Smith at 6:57.

What on earth is going on here!? We CAN score on the power play.

The Predators scored just as their second power play expired as James Neal was crashing the net and was able to redirect the rebound of a Mike Fisher shot past Smith at 11:06 of the first period.

The Predators made it 3-1 at 18:30 of the first period as James Neal drove into the zone and through the Coyotes defense. His drive to the net made Smith come out to respect the shot. Instead, Neal found Ryan Ellis alone at the side of the net. Neal slid a pass to Ellis, who tapped it into a wide open net.

Response delivered.

The second period was scoreless, but the Predators used their speed to create some scoring chances. On the defensive end, the Predators did a good job of disrupting the Coyotes offense.

Calle Jarnkrok made it 4-1 at 2:33 of the third period by battling in front of the net for a loose puck. Jarnkrok managed to get his stick on the puck and poke it past Smith in a maze of bodies around the crease.

Olli Jokinen made it 5-1 when a pass from Colin Wilson deflected off Jokinen's skate and between the pads of Smith at 7:20 of the third. This was Jokinen's second goal of the season.

That was it for the scoring and the Predators pocketed their second win on this three game road trip by the 5-1 margin.

Some observations:

  • Derek Roy returned to the line up after missing 4 games due to injury.
  • A power play goal!! Mike Fisher finally notched one for the Predators off assists from Shea Weber and Filip Forsberg. this was Fisher's first goal since returning to action.
  • I really like the hustle and effort of Colin Wilson. He was physical and flying all over the ice tonight. If there is an example of a player responding to a new voice in the room, it is Wilson.
  • Roman Josi is quietly emerging as an elite defenseman. He can be physical if necessary, but his real strengths are his puck handling and playmaking ability. He is a perfect compliment to his defense partner Shea Weber.
  • Calle Jarnkrok has also elevated his game recently. He has shown strength on the puck and a willingness to battle as was evidenced by his goal tonight. I think Jarnkrok has a lot of upside in his game and it is good to see him playing a strong game in all zones.
  • The Coyotes came into this game having lost their last 7 games on home ice. Facing a fragile team, the Predators did just what they needed to do- get pucks on net and make Smith scramble. The response after the Coyotes opened the scoring was perfect: pressure Smith and make him move and they were rewarded for their efforts.
  • The Coyotes travails on home ice point out the necessity of defending home ice. How good is it that the Predators have done just that this season? Defending home ice is critical to securing playoff position, and so far this season, the Predators have done just that.
  • The Predators out shot the Coyotes 38-32. They also blocked 15 shots by the Coyotes.
This was a good road win by the Predators against a team they should have beaten. That they did so in such a convincing fashion is encouraging.

The Predators will have to continue to play a complete game. They will get a big test against the Sharks on Saturday night.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. James Neal

3. Calle Jarnkrok

No comments:

Post a Comment