Saturday, December 12, 2015

Avalanche Outwork and Outlast the Predators 3-2

The good start that the Predators wanted in their game against the Colorado Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena didn't happen.

A first period saw the Predators outworked all over the ice and trailing to the Avalanche leading 2-0 before Miikka Salomaki tipped home a Ryan Ellis shot  with 7.7 seconds remaining to send the Predators into the intermission trailing 2-1.

Francois Beauchemin scored on the power play on a perfectly placed shot just inside the post on a screened Pekka Rinne for a 1-0 Avalanche lead.

Just 5 seconds after the Predators had killed a second penalty, the Avs scored again as Nick Holden took a perfect pass from Alex Tanguay on a 2 on 1 break to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.

Salomaki was in the hard area at the side of the net when he tipped home a shot from Ellis to make it 2-1.

The second period was scoreless as the Predators out shot the Avs 10-1 but could not get a puck past Semyon Varlamov.

The Predators tied the game just 58 seconds into the third period as Craig Smith beat Varlamov cleanly with a shot from the point.

The Avs scored the game winner by sending a lot of bodies to the net and Andreas Martinsen was able to bat the puck past Rinne for the game winner.

Some observations:

  • The Predators struggled with the Avs trap all night long. They were disrupted trying to get through the neutral zone and were often forced to just dump the puck in the zone. Unfortunately, the Predators rarely retrieved the puck in the zone and the Avs gained possession on most of those plays. The Avs also did a very good job of outworking the Predators along the boards and winning puck battles all night. This forced the Preds to chase the puck all night.
  • On the Avs game winning goal, there were lots of bodies going to the net. This is something that the Predators do not do consistently, and it results in a lot of shots that the opposing netminder is able to play cleanly. Until this changes, the Predators can shoot all they want but they will rarely challenge the net.
  • The Predators PK continues to misfire. They gave up a goal on their first kill as Rinne was screened and could not react to the shot. The Avs second goal came just after a PK as the Predators seemed discombobulated and allowed the Avs a break down the ice. This unit, which looked very good against Chicago, has got to get consistent.
  • Speaking of consistent, the Predators have not won back to back games in over a month. This team plays lights out (Chicago) and then comes out flat and struggles like they did tonight. The lack of consistency is troubling.
  • The Predators got traffic to the net and almost tied the game late in the third period. They hit two posts and a crossbar as Varlamov was scrambling. The difference in this late sequence was that the Predators did a good job of getting traffic in front of Varlamov, some they did not do consistently (there's that word again) for most of the game.
  • Salomaki's goal was his second of his career.
  • Nashville has won only 2 games this season when trailing after two periods. another facet of their performance that has to improve.
Face it, the Predators are a team that has lost their consistency. Win one, lose one (or more). Whether it is a matter of focus or missing injured players, the inconsistency is problematic for this team.

And the Predators cannot be dropping games to teams below them in the standings.

Keep doing that and it will be a very long season.

My three stars:

1. Semyon Varlamov

2. Andreas Martinsen

3. Miikka Salomaki

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