Monday, March 2, 2015

Predators Dominated By the Rangers 4-1

The Nashville Predators traveled to Madison Square Garden to take on the Rangers and attempt to end a two game losing streak.

The Predators now have a 3 game losing streak.

The Rangers out skated and outworked the Predators all night on the way to a 4-1 victory.

The Predators did not give much help to goaltender Pekka Rinne, often leaving the slot wide open for uncontested snots.

Mark Staal, Chris Kreider, and Dominic Moore all tallied for the Rangers. Derek Brassard picked up 2 assists. Rick Nash finished the scoring with an empty net goal.

Matt Cullen got the lone goal past Cam Talbot off a beautiful assist from Taylor Beck.

Some observations:

  • Lines were juggled for this game. Colin Wilson moved to the top line with James Neal and Mike Ribeiro. Mike Fisher centered Craig Smith and Filip Forsberg. Mike Santorelli centered Matt Cullen and Taylor Beck. Calle Jarnkrok was a healthy scratch.
  • Once again, the Predators gave up the first goal of the game. This is the 8th straight game that the Predators have fallen behind 1-0. While the team has shown great resiliency and the ability to (usually) overcome these deficits, this is a disturbing trend that needs to change. This will be especially true come the playoffs.
  • The defense in front of Rinne has dropped off significantly. Rinne had no chance of the Rangers second goal as Craig Smith was abused by Chris Kreider going down the slot. He blew past Smith and had an easy redirect past Rinne. Dominic Moore was left alone by Taylor Beck for an easy score off a rebound. The cohesiveness and positioning has broken down on several occasions and has allowed the opposition prime scoring chances. Rinne made some great saves in this game, but he cannot be expected to clean up so many mistakes by the D in front of him.
  • Taylor Beck has been in and out of the line up recently and has been a healthy scratch the last three games. His play from his knees to set up Matt Cullen's goal was not only a beautiful play, but it was just a no quit, compete play. This is the type of play that has to happen from all of the forwards for the Predators to be successful. Beck is showing that he wants to stay in the line up with this kind of play.
  • How tough are hockey players? Seth Jones took a puck in the mouth in the second period, which stunned him and left him spitting blood. The puck was in the Predators defensive zone when this happened, so Jones kept his defensive position and blocked another shot. Once the puck was cleared, Jones got to the bench, got some attention from the trainers, and was back on the ice for his next shift.
  • The Predators have been getting a taste of playoff hockey- games that are tight checking and are a fight for space on the ice. They have come up short in these contests, and perhaps more disturbing is that they have been getting outworked for broad stretches of these games. Hopefully, these games are a learning experience and the lesson is learned quickly. Playoff hockey is a different animal, and the Predators have been the prey in these types of games.
  • The Predators power play has reverted to abysmal status. They had 3 power plays in the game that generated just 2 shots, and on two of them did not get a shot. The Predators struggle to enter the zone and get set up, and if this aspect of their game does not improve, it will come back to haunt them. The power play unit has little movement, making it easy to defend, and is awfully predictable. That predictability makes it easy to defend. Too easy.
  • The Rangers jumped on the Predators early and never let them in the game. They out shot the Predators 40-26. They had better jump, won more puck battles, and wanted the game more than the Predators.
The reality of the situation is the play of the Predators has dropped off.

No, that's not exactly right.

They opponents have elevated their intensity and level of play and the Predators have not. Like I said, this is a taste of playoff hockey as the Predators are playing some teams that are desperately fighting for playoff position. This is hungry hockey, and right now the Predators are not playing like a hungry team.

Now it gets interesting.

We will see if the Predators can get hungry and raise their game.

Or if they will continue to get outworked by their opponents.

My three stars:

1.  Derek Brassard

2. Mats Zuccarello

3. Chris Kreider

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