Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Predators Play for 40 Minutes; Not Enough to Beat the Devils

A passionless and lethargic first period doomed the Nashville Predators in their game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.

The Predators fell 3-1 to drop their 4th straight game in an embarrassing loss.

Adam Larsson opened the scoring just 58 seconds into the game. Eric Gelinas added a power play goal. Both scores came in the first period when the Predators looked like they thought they could just throw their sweaters on the ice and pick up the win.

Mike Cammalleri was awarded a goal when Seth Jones tripped him as he broke in on the empty net with Carter Hutton pulled for the extra attacker.

After sleepwalking through the first period, the Predators poured 31 shots on net in the final 40 minutes but could only get one puck past Cory Schneider. Mike Fisher got that goal off an assist from Craig Smith.

Some observations:

  • Guess what? For the 9th straight game the Predators gave up the first goal.
  • The Devils scored on 2 of their first 3 shots. Absolutely awful.
  • Part of the problem for the Predators is that the defense looks disorganized if not lost at times. Forwards in particular are doing a lousy job of picking up defenders coming down the slot or forwards that seem to skate through prime scoring areas untouched. This is an aspect of the Predators game that we have not seen recently. And it is a troubling development to say the least.
  • If you are in a slump and having a bit of a struggle, one solution is to get pucks on net and some traffic in front of the net. The Predators didn't get their first shot on net until there was 10:27 remaining in the first period.
  • They managed just 3 shots in the first period. Right now, there is absolutely no jump or push back from this team.
  • Wonder what was said in the locker room at the first intermission? After mustering just 3 shots on goal in the first period, the Predators fired 21 shots on Schneider in the second period while holding the Devils to 6 shots.
  • Generally speaking, I have never been a fan of lots of line juggling. I know there are times it needs to be done to get a player's game going or for match ups, but often time the chemistry of a line is disrupted when a new player is inserted. Mike Fisher's line was partially put back together with Craig Smith joining Filip Forsberg. Fisher's goal was a result of Smith working hard in front of the net and knowing where Fisher would be as he slid the puck to him through traffic.
  • The Predators lost Eric Nystrom to an injury in the second period as he slammed awkwardly into the boards and seemed to injure his ankle.
  • The slow starts and lack of passion by the Predators is baffling, to say the least. This team has had a pretty easy go of it until this recent skid. Now the intensity and the effort is ratcheting up significantly and the Predators haven't remotely kept pace with the play of their opponents.
The Predators can say it wasn't their night (as Mike Fisher did in his post game comments), but the fact is that the Predators haven't played at all like the best team in the NHL. Lacking energy, passion, and desire, the Predators have had their heads handed to them. Expecting to just show up and win these games is a fools errand, and right now,  the Predators are playing the fool.

This funk will not change or dissipate until the players on the ice make it change. And until they decide to make it change, the Predators will continue to skid.

My three stars:

1. Cory Schneider

2. Adam Larsson

3. Eric Gelinas

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