They are not ready for prime time.*
The Anaheim Ducks came into the Bridgestone Arena and owned the Predators, winning most every puck battle and dominating the Predators on the way to a 5-2 win.
The Ducks led 4-0 on two goals by Jakob Silfverberg, the first of which came off a horrible gaffe between Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber while the Predators were on the power play. Rinne and Weber botched a simple dump in by the Ducks and left the puck laying in the crease, which Silfverberg happily deposited into the net.
Sami Vatanen, Matt Belesky, and Silfverberg again scored for the Ducks, who had a 4-0 lead going into the third period.
The Predators finally showed a little bit of life in the third period as Colin Wilson scored at even strength and James Neal added a power play goal.
Whatever dreams of a miraculous comeback by the Predators were snuffed when CoreyPerry added a late period empty netter to make the final margin 5-2.
- The Predators acted like they had never seen an aggressive forecheck like the Ducks employed and they were flummoxed and discombobulated throughout the game by the pressure the Ducks brought. this is disconcerting, because the good teams are going to forecheck the daylights out of their opponents, especially in the playoffs, and the Predators had better quickly learn how to handle the pressure.
- The Predators had very little compete level until the third period, and by then it was too little too late. The Ducks won puck battles all night and the Predators had no answer. The disturbing aspect of this is that the Ducks played hard and the Predators had little push back.
- Colin Wilson was the best player on the ice all night for the Predators. He hustled and competed, something most of his teammates did not. Kudos to Wilson for notching his 17th goal and his 36th point, both career highs.
- Pekka Rinne returned to the net and got no support in front of him. The first goal occurred because of a brutal mishandle of the puck between he and Weber. The second goal was a redirect that completely eluded him. He had little chance on the other two goals that occurred on a power play and a defensive breakdown. all in all, Rinne looked like he moved well, but there was the inevitable rust after the layoff.
- When you are down 2-0 at the start of the second period, it is probably not good to give the opponents about 5 minutes of power play time. Yet that is what the Predators did. Undisciplined and sloppy play and the Predators couldn't climb out that hole, giving up a power play. Frankly, it could have been worse.
- The Predators out shot the Ducks 24-2 in the third period, but could only get two pucks past Frederik Andersen. If they had brought that effort in the first two periods, the outcome might have been different.
It's a learning experience.
And I hope we learned our lesson.
My three stars:
1. Jakob Silfverberg
2. Anyone in a Ducks sweater
3. Colin Wilson
*stick tap to my friend Scott Roland for the suggestion