Thursday, December 17, 2015

Predators Can't Hold the Lead, Give up 2 Third Period Goals in 2-1 Loss to the Blues

The Nashville Predators were looking to establish some positive momentum and turn their season back around.

Playing the St. Louis Blues made that task most difficult.

The Predators started well and took a 1-0 lead on a Roman Josi power play goal in the first period.

That lead stood up until the third period when David Backes redirected a puck past Pekka Rinne to tie the game at 1.

Vladamir Tarasenko beat Rinne on a Blues power play to make the score 2-1.

And once again, the Predators couldn't solve Blues netminder Jake Allen as the Blues held on for a 2-1 win.

Some observations:

  • Colin Wilson returned to the line up after missing 4 games due to injury. He was slotted on the third line with Colton Sissons and Cody Hodgson. 
  • With Wilson back in the line up, Austin Watson was the healthy scratch tonight.
  • The Blues have the number one penalty kill in the NHL. It had to be a real confidence booster for the Predators man advantage unit to get the tally from Roman Josi on their first power play attempt. This unit, which had been hot, hit a cold streak in their last few games. This goal was the result of good puck movement and the smarts to exploit a Blues defender that had broken his stick. Hopefully this gets the power play jump started again.
  • Shea Weber picked up an assist on the Josi goal, giving him 20 points on the season. Josi's goal gives him 23 points. The Predators are the only team in the NHL with two blue liners that have 20 points or more. 
  • The Blues have a +15 goal differential in the third period. This is a testament to the ability of the Blues to turn it on in crunch time.The Predators are a +3 in third period goal differential. They have scored 29 times but have given up 26 goals against, indicative of the Predators struggle to lock down teams in the last 20 minutes. 
  • There are a lot of cracks in the Predators facade. One of them is the inability to hold a lead in the third period. Once again, this fault came back to bite the Predators as they surrendered the lead to the Blues. Whether it is a lack of offensive aggressiveness, fear of making a mistake, or just sitting back on their heels and hoping Rinne stops everything thrown at the the net, this strategy isn't working for the Predators. Until they change their play in the third period, they will continue to give up leads and lose games.
  • Allen has faced 71 shots in 2 games against the Predators and has given up one goal. No Predators forward has scored against the Blues this season.
  • The Predators were dominated in the face off circle, winning just 24 of 59 draws for a 40% success rate.
  • The play of Roman Josi continues to stand out. He has emerged as a complete and elite NHL defenseman. He is one of the few bright spots for the Predators.
Let's face it, we are seeing the real Predators. They are a middling team that will struggle to make the playoffs as the roster is built right now.

Unless there are some significant changes, this will be a team that will be lucky to get into the playoffs.

My three stars:

1. Jake Allen

2. Roman Josi

3. Vladamir Tarasenko

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