Thursday, April 9, 2015

Predators Continue to Stumble In Loss to the Wild

At the beginning of March, the Nashville Predators sat 9 points ahead of their closest competition for the Central Division title and were a legitimate contender for the President's Trophy.

Fast forward to the next to last game of the season, and the Predators have blown their first Division title just like they have blown way too many games in the last 25% of the season. Instead of hitting the playoffs on a roll, the Predators are stumbling into the post season.

With their 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild at the Bridgestone Arena, the Predators hopes for a Division title evaporated just like their lead in this and so many other games.

The Predators jumped out to a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period on Filip Forsberg's 25th goal of the season and a tally from Seth Jones, his 8th.

That was it for the Predators as the Wild scored on the power play off a goal from Jason Zucker and a breakaway from Marco Scandella.

Jason Pominville scored late in the third period, and the Predators gave up their obligatory empty net goal from Jason Zucker for the final margin.

Some observations:

  • This team continues to baffle me for their inability to hold a lead. I have seen more blown leads from this team over the last month to last a lifetime. For some reason, this team just lacks a killer instinct and seems content to sit back and let the opponent dictate play. After a dominating first period, the Predators were manhandled in the second period. They were out shot 15-9 and Pekka Rinne was under siege. The Predators gave up shots from prime scoring areas throughout the period. Part of the problem has been the inconsistency of the D pairings outside of Weber and Josi. What was once a solid blue line has become an adventure, and it has been a problem for this team.
  • This team looks to me to be out of gas. The inability to lock down a lead is a symptom of this condition. There has been the usual talk of finding a playoff gear, but this team does not have one. Part of it is the tendency to be too cute in the offensive zone and look for the pretty pass. Playoff hockey is gritty and sometimes ugly, and the grit factor on this team is not high. And I don't think the team has a switch to flip.
  • Sigh... the power play continues to be abysmal. Just getting into the zone was a small victory for this unit. I don't understand the philosophy, the lack of movement, the lack of net front presence, it is just amazing we can get this late in the season and see no improvement or change out of this unit. If- and that's a big if- we get in the zone, they are going to get pinned against the wall and generate few chances. I will say it again, this is going to bite the Predators in the butt in the playoffs.
  • On a positive note, Filip Forsberg tallied his team leading 25th goal. His 62 points has him in a tie for most points by a rookie with Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames.
With Chicago's loss tonight, the Predators locked up second place in the Central Division and home ice in the first round.

But what could have been for this team.

The concern is that the Predators will stumble into the playoffs with their confidence shot (very likely) and will be a first round flame out.

With one game left, it remains to be seen how this team turns it around.

My three stars:

1. Jason Zucker

2. Filip Forsberg

3. Jason Pominville

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