Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Predators Bomb Against the Blackhawks

The Nashville Predators faced a stiff test in the second game of a back to back series as they squared off against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.

They failed the test. Badly.

The Predators dropped a 4-1 decision to their Central Division rivals in a game where Corey Crawford shined in net and the Predators couldn't find a way to get the puck past him.

Dennis Rasmussen redirected a point shot by Andrew Shaw in the first period to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.

Andrew Shaw scored on a power play to make it 2-0 in the second period.

The Predators would draw to 2-1 on a goal by Eric Nystrom off a beautiful assist from Roman Josi.

That is as close as the Predators would get as Teuvo Teravainen would beat Pekka Rinne early in the third period with a perfectly placed shot to the top corner.

Patrick Kane would add an empty net goal for the final margin.

Some observations:

  • Colin Wilson was scratched due to aggravating a lower body injury in last night's game against the Bruins.Craig Smith moved back up to the second line with Viktor Arvidsson and Mike Ribeiro. 
  • There is no doubt the United Center can be an intimidating place in which to play. The Predators had several guys in their line up that were on UC ice for the first time, and they pressed the attack and played with some poise. 
  • Paul Gaustad has been a good soldier, and I like Paul. But I think Paul's time has passed. He is contributing very little to the Predators this season. He has become average in the face off dot and is a liability in the offensive zone. I believe that it is time to put Salomaki, Watson, and Sissons together on the 4th line. They play with jump and have more offensive pop than than the current 4th line unit. Early in the season, the Watson, Bourque, and Sissons 4th line played exceptionally well and were able to contribute offensively. With Bourque out due to an injury, Salomaki can play on that 4th line and I think it will benefit the Predators to have a more offensively dangerous 4th unit.
  • Roman Josi continues to play at an elite level. He absolutely undressed Duncan Keith with a sweet move to set up the goal by Nystrom. Josi is so smooth and calm with the puck and has exceptional vision on the ice, and he uses those skills to fire his underrated shot or set up teammates.
  • In my view, the difference between the Predators and the Blackhawks is simply this: the Blackhawks have players throughout their line up that can score, and they do so on a consistent basis. The Predators have some talented players, but they are mostly players that disappear for long stretches at a time (Forsberg, Smith, Wilson, to name a few). There are fewer high end players on the Predators roster and their consistency is virtually non-existent. Until that changes, the Predators are going to be an good team but not remotely close to being an elite team.
  • This game was indicative of the Predators talent level. Lots of hustle, fairly good effort, but no one that could finish The Predators talent level has improved, but clearly lags behind teams like the Hawks and Blues. This team tries hard, and will win their fair share of games, but the Predators are who they are- hard working but lacking in elite talent.
  • Want proof? The Predators put 37 shots on goal compared to the Hawks 24. The difference? The Hawks have finishers and the Predators do not.
  • The Predators out hit the Hawks 36-14, which is indicative of the fact they were chasing the puck most of the night.
 The Predators are 0-2 against the elite teams of the Central that they have played (Blues and Hawks) and have yet to play the best team in the Central, the Stars. The Predators are either going to have to get some players going (I'm looking at you, Smith, Forsberg, and Wilson) or they are going to have to seriously upgrade their talent.

Otherwise, they will be scrambling to make the playoffs.

My three stars:

1. Corey Crawford

2. Andrew Shaw

3. Teuvo Teravainen

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