They failed miserably.
The Predators never really threatened Chicago netminder Corey Crawford as they were generally loath to go to the front of the net. Content to shoot from outside, Crawford had a fairly easy night, stopping 38 of 39 shots on the way to backstopping a Hawks 4-1 win.
Ryan Ellis got the only goal of the night for the Predators on a shot, imagine this, from the point.
Artem Anisimov, Richard Panik. and Patgrick Kane all scored at even strength. Andrew Desjardin added an empty net goal for the final margin.
- Winning hockey is (generally speaking) equal parts skill, will, and playing a sound system. The Predators have improved their skill, although the skill on this roster id frustratingly inconsistent. The system is breaking down as the Predators have had too many defensive breakdowns in this funk, and tonight defensive breakdowns cost the Predators (more on that in a moment). The area that is glaringly lacking in my opinion is the will. This team lacks snarl and an attitude that they will not be denied the prime scoring areas of the ice. Instead, the Preds are content to look pretty and shoot from the point. The results of that style of play has been the 2 month downturn that this team is experiencing. They have played themselves out of the playoff picture because they are not playing hard, determined hockey.
- It is up to the coaching staff and the leadership of this team to change the direction. Continuing to play the style of hockey that they are currently playing will continue to frustrate the team and their fans and they will not improve. This team is going to have to commit to play hard hockey, and if they don't, the remainder of the season will be on that is incredibly frustrating.
- Head Coach Peter Laviolette is prone to mixing up his lines. This throwing players in a blender approach has been, again in my opinion, counterproductive. Chemistry is not where it should be, and that is manifesting itself in the lack of production from the forwards. Passes are not connecting and the inability to pressure the net is in part due to this constant changing of line combinations.
- The Hawks first goal came because the Predators were too loose and casual with the puck. Failing to clear the zone, they turned it over and hung Pekka Rinne out to dry. Kane's goal came on a defensive breakdown when he got behind the defense for a breakaway. These are the kinds of errors that good teams make rarely. The Predators are making these kinds of mistakes consitently and it is resulting in the puck winding up in the back of our net.
- I really like Pekka Rinne. For years, this team has relied on him to make amazing saves and clean up their mistakes. Rinne has been pedestrian at best this season and has not made the saves that he has in the past. I don't know the reason, but unless he can elevate his game, the Predators are in really big trouble.
- The inability of the forwards to generate any kind of consistent pressure on Crawford is troubling. Sometimes, it is necessary to simplify the game and drive the net, and this is something that the Predators forwards have not shown a willingness to do. Again, this aspect of their game has to change or this season will continue to spiral down the drain.
Troubling because the Predators are fast seeing their season slip away.
My three stars:
1. Patrick Kane
2. Artemi Panarin
3. Ryan Ellis