Saturday, February 21, 2015

Predators Phail In Philly, Phall in Shootout 3-2

The Nashville Predators continued their three game Eastern Conference road trip with a stop in Philadelphia to take on the Flyers.

Someone should have told the Predators it was a 12:00 start.

The Predators were guilty of sleep walking through most of the game before a third period goal from Craig Smith tied the game to send it to overtime.

Wayne Simmonds scored on deflection to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead in the first period. Colin Wilson answered to tie the game at one after 20 minutes.

It was improbable that the Predators would be tied as they could only generate 3 shots on net.

Ryan White was left alone in the slot and beat Rinne stick side for the only goal in the second period.

The Predators got on the board 23 seconds into the third period as Mike Fisher set up Craig Smith for his 18th goal.

After a scoreless overtime, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmons scored in the shootout, while Matt Cullen and Craig Smith were stopped by Rob Zepp.

Some observations:

  • Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli had a day of practice on Friday and were in the line up for the Predators. Santorelli was on the third line with Calle Jarnkrok and Matt Cullen, while Franson was paired with Mattias Ekholm on the second D pair.
  • The Predators offense was totally inept in the first period. Mustered only 3 shots on goal against a 33 year old rookie back up goaltender who has played all of 6 games. This is where the Predators need to turn up the intensity and get pucks to the net and challenge the goalie. Instead, they were sleep walking in the first period.
  • By contrast, the Flyers were pumping pucks at the net. Rinne faced 13 shots and was beaten on a terrific redirected shot by Wayne Simmons.
  • The ineptitude of the Predators offense continued in the second period as they could only get 4 shots on net. The Predators looked totally out of sync and had absolutely no intensity and compete level. This is both puzzling and disturbing as the Predators offense looked totally disjointed. No one was stepping up to make plays or to try to generate any fire on the team. This is an aspect of the Predators game that we have only rarely seen this season, and now for the second game in a row, it becomes worrisome.
  • Pekka Rinne made a huge stop on Ryan White early in the third period, who had the puck alone at the top of the crease. Goodness, the compete level and athleticism of Rinne are off the charts. He would later make a couple of spectacular saves on Mark Streit and Claude Giroux. Frankly, the only reason the Predators were even in this game was the play of Rinne.
  • The Predators continue to get good production from Colin Wilson and Craig Smith. Both tallied goals to get the Predators back into the game. For Wilson, it was his 19th of the season and it was the 18th for Smith. One of the strengths of this team this year has been balanced and consistent scoring.
  • By forcing overtime, the Predators still have not lost back to back regulation games this season.
  • The Predators power play was awful. They had 2 chances with the man advantage and generated one shot.
This was a game where the Predators salvaged a point, and that is the only positive that you can take away from it. A lack of intensity and focus bit the Predators in the butt.

Hopefully, this is not the start of a trend.

For the Predators, they need to get back to simple, hard nosed hockey and quit trying to make the cute plays. That has been their formula for success, and we have seen in the last two games what happens when they get away from that formula.

They get their chance to try to play that way tomorrow in Buffalo.

My three stars:

1.  Wayne Simonds

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Rob Zepp

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