Thursday, December 3, 2015

Predators Fall to the Panthers 2-1 In Another Frustrating Loss

The Nashville Predators fell to the Florida Panthers at Bridgestone Arena by a 2-1 margin. Another game where the Predators dominated on the shot counter (33-16) but came up short on the scoreboard.

Quintin Howden opened the scoring for the Panthers as the puck took a funny bounce off a stanchion and caromed to Howden in the middle of the ice. That sent Howden in on a breakaway and he beat Pekka Rinne stick side for a 1-0 Panthers lead.

The Panthers took a 2-0 advantage on the power play as Jonathan Huberdeau got free in the slot and beat Rinne over the shoulder.

The Predators would cut the lead to 2-1 as Roman Josi, driving the net, deflected a shot from Craig Smith past Roberto Luongo.

That was a s close as the Predators could get, although they had a shot that beat Luongo and hit both posts with 30 seconds remaining, but the puck did not cross the goal line.

Some observations:

  • The Predators offense was disrupted all night by the forecheck and trap of the Panthers and they could not seem to figure out how to solve it. In game management and adjustments at intermissions have to be made, but it appeared that the Predators made none and  allowed the Panthers to choke down their speed all night.
  • The Predators, by contrast, did not forecheck well. Often they dumped the puck in the zone but there were no Predators able to retrieve the puck. Worse yet, the Predators lost puck battles on the boards all night. 
  • This was the first game that the Predators played without Mike Fisher. He has been placed on IR and will miss at least 4 games with a lower body injury.
  • Calle Jarnkrok moved up to center the second line and played well. He is playing with speed and confidence and you can see his game growing each time he is on the ice. Jarnkrok won 64% of his faceoffs tonight.
  • The Predators got away from what brought them a win against the Coyotes in the previous game. Although they had a lot of shots, there was not a lot of traffic in front of Luongo. This is a league where you have to score goals from the hard areas, and tonight, the Predators didn't make much of an effort to get to those hard areas.
  • The Panthers blocked 21 shots. The Predators blocked 6.
  • This is the first time the Panthers have won a game in Nashville since 1999.
  • The Predators PK is a woeful 77% for the season. In the last 10 games, it is 57%. Awful.
  • The officiating  did not cost the Predators the game, but the late game embellishment call against James Neal was just embarrassingly bad. When a player is tripped with a stick in his skate blade and falls, that is not embellishment, and the NHL should be ashamed of the lack of integrity in the officials on the ice.
  • The Predators are 2-6-2 when they allow the first goal, and they have won only 2 games this season when trailing after two periods.
The Predators are dealing with injuries, and that obviously has an impact on this team. But the fact is that this team is just average right now and outside of Filip Forsberg, lacks a real game changer.

So that means this team is going to have to play gritty hockey that is not fancy but tough.

Time to change, boys.

My three stars:

1. Jonathan Huberdeau

2. Roberto Luongo

3. Roman Josi

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