Thursday, November 12, 2015

Predators Trapped By the Leafs, Fall In A Shoot Out

The struggling Toronto Maple Leafs ventured into Bridgestone Arena to take on the high flying Nashville Predators, and on paper, this should have been a game the Predators would chalk up in the win column.

However, the game is played on the ice, and the Leafs played a perfect road game in defeating the Predators in a shootout 2-1.

The Leafs, under new Coach Mike Babcock, looked like an incarnation of the early version of the Minnesota Wild when they were coached by Jacques Lemaire. The Leafs trapped all night long and choked the offensive life out of the Predators, holding them to just 22 shots for the game. This included the Predators having 1:50 of power play time in the overtime period.

The Leafs did a good job of disrupting the Predators breakouts and rush through the neutral zone all night. When the Predators did challenge the net, James Reimer was equal to the task.

The Predators finally broke through on the power play in the third period as Shea Weber tallied his 5th goal of the season.

The Predators let the Leafs tie the game on a defensive breakdown. Tyler Bozak beat Filip Forsberg back through the slot and capitalized on the mistake, roofing a shot over the shoulder of a sprawling Pekka Rinne.

The Predators couldn't capitalize with the lengthy man advantage in overtime, mustering only 1 shot on goal in the 5 minute period. The Leafs managed just two shots in the extra period.

The shootout went to 5 rounds before Peter Holland beat Rinne with a forehand snap shot to give the Leafs a 2-1 win.

Some observations:

  • The Predators were woeful in the shootout with 3 of the 5 shooters failing to get off a shot. Too much talent to waste chances like that.
  • Shea Weber played in his 700th NHL game. Calle Jarnkrok played in his 100th NHL game.
  • This is the first time this season that the Leafs have won consecutive games. They defeated the Stars in their previous game.
  • The Leafs trapped all game and the Predators could not seem to figure out how to handle the pressure. After pouring 45 and 38 shots on goal in their previous two games, the Predators could muster only 22 shots in regulation and overtime, and many of those were not quality shots. The Predators are going to have to figure out how to handle this type of pressure because as the season goes along, they will face teams that will attempt to thwart their speed.
  • The Predators were much better in the face off dot, winning 59% of their draws. Calle Jarnkrok won 78% of his draws while Mike Ribeiro won 71%.
  • Speaking of Ribeiro, he has been invisible in the offensive zone recently. Ribeiro needs to elevate his game to make the second line go, and his play has been average at best recently.
This was a trap game (literally) for the Predators and they fell victim to a team that is playing for jobs and pride. The Predators did not match the effort of the Leafs and it showed on the scoreboard.

It's time for a better effort in the next game.

My three stars:

1. James Reimer

2. Tyler Bozak

3. Shea Weber

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