Sunday, March 29, 2015

Predators Burned By the Flames 5-2

The Nashville Predators were playing their third game in 4 days.

It showed, as the Calgary Flames dominated the Predators at Bridgestone Arena, taking a 5-2 victory and sweeping their season series.

It started well for the Predators as Roman Josi opened the scoring with a well placed shot that beat Jonas Hiller to give the Predators a 1-0 first period lead.

That lead evaporated when Lance Bouma was able to gather a rebound in the slot and slip the puck between the pads of Carter Hutton.

Kris Russell gave the Flames a 2-1 lead when his shot hit the skate of Paul Gaustad and deflected past Hutton.

The Flames tacked on two more second period goals. The Predators defense let Michael Ferland alone at the top of the crease and he beat Hutton to make it 3-1.

Jiri Hudler let a shot go that Hutton appeared to stop between his pads, but the puck squirted out and trickled over the goal line to make it 4-1.

Seth Jones gave the Predators some life in the third period when his bullet from the blue line beat Hiller over his shoulder to make it 4-2.

The Predators pulled Hutton for an extra attacker, and predictably gave up an empty net goal by Bouma for the final 5-2 margin.

Some observations:

  • When  you looked at the schedule and saw 4 games in 6 days against some top flight competition (Montreal, Tampa Bay, Washington, and Calgary) and told me that the Predators would take 6 of 8 points, I would have gladly taken that. The Predators played some good hockey during this stretch, and frankly, looked like a tired team at times against the Flames.
  • I don't fault Hutton on the first 3 Calgary goals, but goodness, he has got to stop that 4th goal. That was incredibly soft and dug a hole too deep for the Predators.
  • When the Norris trophy discussions are held, Roman Josi's name has to be mentioned. Josi continues to play at a very high level against the opposition's best forwards and is doing a stellar job. He just brings it every game. His goal gives him 55 points for the season, one shy of the all time record for a Predators defenseman.
  • Seth Jones tied a career record for points (25) with his first period goal. Seth has been up and down this season, but I like the way he has stepped in on the first D pairing with Shea Weber out due to an injury. I have to keep reminding myself that Seth is still a young player and in just his second season in the NHL. He shows lots of upside potential, and patience will be required as he continues to develop.
  • Weber missed his second game with a lower body injury.
  • Mike Ribeiro picked up an assist on the goal by Jones, giving him 499 for his career. He also set a single season mark for assists by a Predators center with 45, passing Jason Arnott.
  • The Predators defense was leaky at times, allowing the flames to have free access to the slot. That may be a fatigue factor, but the Flames are a desperate team and once again, the Predators had difficulty in matching the intensity of a hungry opponent.
  • This was the last set of back to back games in this season for the Predators.
  • The Predators had one power play in the game, and did not score. Once again, the unit continues to struggle to gain the zone and generate quality scoring chances. Same song, same verse.
  • As of tonight, the Predators have 5 games remaining. They have 102 points and lead St. Louis by 3 and third place Minnesota by 7 in the Central Division. Anaheim leads the Western Conference and the League with 103 points.
The Predators play Vancouver at home on Tuesday and are then off until Saturday when they play Dallas at home.

This will give the team an opportunity for some practice and rest and recovery.

They can use it as they sprint toward the playoffs.

My three stars:

1. Lance Bouma

2. Jiri Hudler

3. Roman Josi

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