Saturday, March 7, 2015

Predators Wilt Under the Pressure From the Jets, Fall 3-1

The Winnipeg Jets continued the Nashville Predators recent misery, handing them a 3-1 defeat at the Bridgestone Arena for the Predators 6th consecutive loss.

The Jets opened the scoring when Andrew Ladd blew past Seth Jones and slipped a pass to Michael Frolik, who had beaten Cody Franson badly driving to the net. Frolik's shot was partially stopped by Pekka Rinne but it was not enough to keep the puck out of the net.

The Predators tied the game at 1 in the second period when a shot from the point by Ryan Ellis made its way through traffic and over the shoulder of Michael Hutchinson.

The elation of that goal was short lived, however, as Rinne kicked out a rebound of a Tyler Myers shot. Shea Weber lost track of Blake Wheeler and he pounded the puck home to give the Jets a lead they would not relinquish.

Drew Stafford added an empty net goal for the final margin.

Some observations:

  • My view of this team is that they overachieved in the first half of the season and are now reverting to who they really are. Many pundits spoke of this team as elite. They are not. Not even close. They are most certainly a good team, but far from elite. When this team plays their game and limits mistakes, more often than not, they will win games. Right now, they are making mistakes and those mistakes are ending up in the back of their net. And they are certainly not playing their game- attacking the net and aggressively fighting for rebounds and position on the ice.
  • The Jets gave the Predators fits all night. They trapped coming out of the defensive zone and in the neutral zone, sending two forecheckers after the puck carrier. This baffled the Predators all night and forced them into bad passes and turnovers. When the Predators could get into the offensive zone, once again the Jets pressured the puck carrier and disrupted the offense. The Predators puck support was terrible and they lost just about every battle for the puck along the boards. Part of this speaks to the effort of the Jets. More troubling is that the Predators didn't adjust and step up their game to match the intensity of the Jets. Elite teams adjust their game. The Predators did not.
  • To that point, their were only two Predators that seemed to be able to consistently handle the puck against the Jets pressure. Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi could carry the puck into the zone against the trap. Rarely could any other Predator. This is going to be a serious problem in the playoffs.
  • How stifling was the Jets defense? They held the Predators to 4 shots on goal in the first period and 7 in the third. The Preds got 10 shots in the second for a total of 21. The Jets had 26 shots on goal.
  • I really like the play of Gabriel Bourque. He was physical and created some scoring chances. He certainly went hard to the net, including a scary first period collision with Hutchinson when he was forchecked into the Jets netminder by Adam Lowry.
  • The defensive pairing of Seth Jones and Cody Franson looked out of sync all night. The Jets first goal was a direct result of bad plays by both. These two just look like they have no chemistry at all. 
  • Franson took a knee on knee hit and crashed into the boards in the second period, and it looked bad. He left the ice with the assistance of the training staff and could put no weight on his left leg. Fortunately, he did return for the third period.
  • It sure would be nice to see Mike Santorelli get his game going. Santorelli has been invisible since he was acquired from the Maple Leafs.
  • Someone on the coaching staff please tell Mike Ribeiro it is okay to take the puck to the net and especially to shoot the puck. Ribeiro had a couple of open looks at the net but chose to try to pass instead. Never pass up a good shot at the net, Ribs.
  • For the 11th straight game, the Predators gave up the first goal. Can we stop this trend? PLEASE! Remember early in the season when we were doing that and we were still winning games? Now the Predators are 19-18-3 when giving up the first goal. See my first bullet point above.
  • Thankfully, this is the last time we play the Jets in the regular season. The Predators captured the season series 3-2.
No doubt this isn't fun for the team and the fans. As fans, we can just sit and stew and vent our frustration. Getting out of this funk is on the team. They are going to have to elevate their game to break this losing streak.

More importantly, they are going to have to play smart. They are going to have to play with heart and passion.

That is the only way out.

My three stars:

1. Blake Wheeler

2. Michael Frolik

3. Ryan Ellis

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