Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Predators Once Again Blow a Lead, Fall In OT to the Wild

The Nashville Predators are desperate for a win.

Roman Josi did his best to see that would happen.

Unfortunately, the rest of the team didn't follow.

Roman Josi put the team on his back and scored 2 goals 45 seconds apart in the second period to give the Predators a 2-1 lead going into the third period.

Regrettably, this Predators team has lost all ability to close out a game.

Charlie Coyle had given the Wild a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period as he out muscled the Predators mini-me defenseman Ryan Ellis. Coyle struck again in a third period that the Predators once again let slip away. His rocket from the face off circle over the shoulder of Pekka Rinne tied the game at 2.

Just 22 seconds into the overtime, Matt Dumba scored to give the Wild a win and send the Predators to their 9th loss in their last 12 games.

Some observations:

  • The Predators dominated the second period and pumped 11 shots on Devan Dubnyk. Roman Josi got free in the slot and blasted a shot over the shoulder of Dubnyk. Less than a minute later, Josi strucjk again with a well placed shot through traffic that beat Dubnyk on the glove side. The Predators controlled play and out shot the Wild 11-3 and held a decided territorial advantage in the Wild zone.
  • The most troubling aspect about this team that has shown itself through this losing streak is that the opponents have ramped up their intensity and their snappiness while the Predators have not come close to matching that effort. The Wild out shot the Predators 11-6 in the third period, but controlled play for long stretches in the Predators zone. The Predators had no answer, much like in the Ducks game and like many games in this losing skid. This does not bode well for this team. I have said that opponents are playing playoff hockey, while the Predators are not even close. This was another of those games. When the Predators have had the lead, they have been content to stop attacking and just dump the puck out of the zone. They have relied on Rinne to make every save, and this is not a formula for success. Failing to match the intensity and effort of the opponent and losing their offensive edge has cost the Predators the last two games. It will cost them in the playoffs as well.
  • Big ups to Roman Josi, who played his ass off and did his dead level best to carry the Predators to victory. It is a shame the rest of his mates didn't follow suit. There were questions as to whether Josi could be an adequate replacement for Ryan Suter, and Josi has more than answered those questions. He is by far and away a more complete defenseman than Suter. Josi is 5 points away from tying Shea Weber's point total for most points by a Predators defenseman (61 points).
  • For the life of me, I cannot understand why Mike Santorelli is getting top line minutes. Since his acquisition at the trade deadline, Santorelli has shown me nothing. He does not have a point yet is getting prime minutes with James Neal out of the lineup.
This losing skid has exposed the most glaring weakness of this team, and that is the failure to amp up their intensity in tightly contested contests.

Think that intensity is going to be even higher in the playoffs?

The Predators have done nothing different in their style of play. That worked well early in the season, but this is the time of year where effort, intensity, and heart go to another level. The Predators have- so far- shown they are not up to that challenge.

As they slip further in the standings, they are looking at a first round matchup against Chicago. Think the Blackhawks will elevate their game?

The question for the Predators is can they find another gear?

If they can't, it is not going to be fun.

My three stars:

1. Roman Josi

2. Charlie Coyle

3. Matt Dumba

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