Monday, November 23, 2015

Predators Scoring Woes Continue In 3-0 Loss to the Rangers

The Nashville Predators looked to right the ship after dropping their last two games by a combined 8-0 score. The task doesn't get any easier for the Predators as the stop in New York to take on the Rangers.

The Rangers have been nearly unbeatable at home, going 9-1-1 in Madison Square Garden.

The Predators had ample opportunity to break their shut out streak in the first period, having 7:21 of power play time and out shooting the Rangers 14-3, but could not solve Henrik Lundqvist.

After the final 39 seconds of the Predators power play to open the second period had ended, Rick Nash got the puck away from Roman Josi and took the puck into the Predators zone and beat Pekka Rinne with a wrist shot from the face off circle.

The Predators defense broke down in the second period and left Derek Stepan alone in front of the net and he was able to beat Rinne to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead early in the third period.

Kevin Hayes beat Rinne from the blue line on the power play to make it 3-0, and with the Predators scoring woes, this game was over.

Heck, with the Predators scoring woes, this game was over a 1-0.

Mercifully, the Rangers didn't score again to embarrass the Predators further, and they captured a 3-0 win over the woeful and struggling Predators.

Some observations:

  • Mike Fisher was reunited with Craig Smith and Colin Wilson, while Mike Ribeiro centered James Neal and Filip Forsberg. Reuniting these lines will hopefully generate some positive offensive results after the past several games where Head Coach Peter Laviolette had put the lines in a blender.
  • James Neal played in his 500th NHL tonight.
  • The Predators first period was as good of a period of hockey that the Predators have played in a while. The Predators peppered Lundqvist with shots, many from the point, but could not find the back of the net. I still say that the Predators are lacking a player that can dominate the front of the net and this has been a part of their recent scoring woes.
  • In the last 3 games, every mistake- EVERY mistake- has wound up in the back of the Predators net. A turnover by Josi led to the Nash goal and a defensive breakdown resulted in the Stepan goal. This is run of bad puck luck for the Predators that is part not so good hockey and part pissed off hockey gods.
  • This game turned in the first period when the Rangers were back on their heels and the Predators couldn't convert on their 4 power plays. The Predators did a good job of getting in the zone but failed to generate much traffic in front of Lundqvist. If the Predators are not going hard to the net they are going to to have trouble scoring. This is part of the problem for the Predators offense right now.
  • The Predators, in particular James Neal, have taken some dumb and selfish penalties lately. I don't fault a penalty that occurs off a tough and aggressive hockey play, but some of these penalties are occurring when a player loses their focus and does something stupid. The Predators have to clean up this nonsense in their game.
  • Good to see Ryan Ellis get back on the ice after blocking a shot off the inside of his leg. This was the same type of block that knocked Ellis out of the line up for several games. It looked bad when it happened.
  • For the second game in a row, Mike Ribeiro was tagged with a 10 minute misconduct. Ribeiro is one of many Predator forwards that has contributed nothing over the past 3 games and has shown a frustratingly undisciplined level of play.
  • The Previous worst scoring slump for the Predators was 176 minutes. The Predators have now gone approximately 210 minutes without a goal. Their last goal was midway of the second period against the Anaheim Ducks 4 games ago.
  • The scoring drought of some of the key forwards is getting ridiculous. Forsberg, Smith, Wilson, Neal, and Fisher are struggling and they have to get their game going quickly.
  • The Predators hit two posts, but that was a close as they got to scoring in the game.
The Predators out shot the Rangers 31-19, but frankly it doesn't matter if they cannot find the back of the net.

The Predators have gotten away from hard hockey, a style of play that sends lots of traffic to the net with the intent of gaining position and refusing to yield that space. Right now, the Predators are a fancy team without the grit necessary to score goals.

Unless that changes, things are going to get even uglier.

My three stars:

1. Henrik Lundqvist

2. Rick Nash

3. Kevin Hayes

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