Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Predators Can't Finish, Bombed by the Jets 4-1

Driving to the game tonight to see the Nashville Predators take on the Winnipeg Jets, I had to contend with lots of traffic.

That is something that Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck rarely had to deal with as he stymied the Predators, turning away 43 of 44 shots on the way to a 4-1 victory.

The Predators threw 44 shots at the Jets netminder, but were content to fire away mostly from the outside, giving Hellebuyck the opportunity to make a  number of routine saves.

Drew Stafford scored two power play goals, Ben Chairot notched a horribly soft goal, and Alexander Burmistrov added an empty netter.

Colin Wilson got the only tally for the Predators long after the outcome had been decided.

Some observations:

  • Yes, the Predators threw a lot of shots at the net. And Hellebuyck did make some very good saves. But the quality scoring chances by the Predators were belied by the vast number of shots. Many were from the outside with Hellebuyck totally unscreened. Rarely did the Predators get traffic to the net, and with the lack of finishers on this team, that is essential to their scoring efforts. Unless the Predators make that commitment to get to the dirty areas, the tough areas of the ice, this team is going to continue to struggle and will find themselves on the outside looking in when the playoffs roll around.
  • The Predators offense has become very predictable. Teams are jamming the middle and forcing the puck outside. That is where many of the shots tonight came from, and there was rarely traffic in front of Hellebuyck. This made a lot of his saves very routine. It is apparent that we do not have shooters that can routinely pick a corner and score the "goal scorers" goal. So unless we get players that can finish their scoring chances or we get players that can create havoc out front, look for more of these types of games.
  • I don't fault Rinne on the first two goals. The defense left Stafford alone in front on the first goal, and his second was a perfect re-direct. But that third goal that Rinne let in was absolutely brutal and killed any hopes of climbing back in this game. This team has to objectively look at Rinne and realize that they have a 32 year old netminder that has been elite but is now on the downside of his career.
  • The Predators were out hit by the Jets, who were the more physical team tonight. Hits were 17-10 in favor of the Jets.
  • The Predators have won only 2 games this season when trailing after 2 periods.
  • The Predators PK was atrocious. They gave up 2 goals on 3 Jets power plays.
This team has shown no ability to build positive momentum. Win a game, lose a game (or 2 or 3). This is not a formula to get into the playoffs, and unless this team can gain some consistency and positive momentum, they will likely miss the playoffs.

Look, I love this team and will always support them.

But I am also a realist.

And the reality is that this team is at best average.

And average is not going to get you in the playoffs.

My three stars:

1. Drew Stafford

2. Connor Hellebuyck

3. Tyler Myers

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