Thursday, January 21, 2016

Predators Get Much Needed Win Against the Jets 4-1

The Predators ship has been taking on lots of water in January, recording just 2 victories for the month. To say they desperately needed a win is the understatement of the year.

The Predators got that win against Divisional for Winnipeg with a 4-1 win.

The game didn't start the way that the Predators wanted, as a defensive breakdown led to a breakaway goal by Nick Ehlers to give the Jets a 1-0 lead.

Pekka Rinne would shut down the Jets the rest of the way and the Predators attacked Connor Hellebuyck and the Jets goal for 4 goals.

Ryan Johansen tied the game in the first period with a power play goal. Craig Smith scored a beauty to give the Predators a 2-1 lead at the end of the second period.

James Neal added a third period goal to make it 3-1. Calle Jarnkrok ended the scoring with an empty net goal for the final margin of 4-1.

Some observations:
  • Roman Josi played in his 300th game tonight. Josi has by far and away been the Predators best and most consistent player this season.
  • Lines and D combos in a blender again. First line of forwards remained the same (Fiala, Johansen, and Neal). Second line was Ribeiro centering Forsberg and Craig Smith. Third Line was Fisher centering Salomaki and Jarnkrok. Petter Granberg drew back in on the blue line and was paired with Mattias Ekholm. Barrett Jackman was paired with Ryan Ellis.
  • Cody Bass chucked knuckles with Brad Stuart after Stuart's big hit on Mike Fisher. The scrap started slowly but Bass flattened Stuart with a big right to end the fight. 
  • Has the Johansen for Jones trade paid off for the Predators or what? 8 points in 7 games for RyJo and he is showing he was absolutely worth the swap of an up and coming blueliner. Johansen's goal was a workmanlike goal, going to the net and not quitting on the puck before he jammed it past Hellebuyck.
  • Welcome back to the score sheet, Craig Smith. A beautiful shot in a small space for his 10th goal of the season. The Predators need to get Smith untracked and finding the net consistently, and hopefully this will open the door for some more goals by the Honey Badger.
  • Goodness, the Predators defense has been awfully leaky of late. The first period goal by Ehlers was the result of a forward jetting behind the Preds defense for a breakaway goal, the second in consecutive games allowed by the Predators D corp. Rinne had to be sharp on several occasions as the Jets forwards were roaming almost uncontested through the low slot. The Predators are going to have to tighten up this aspect of their game if they are going to start winning games consistently.
  • Petter Granberg picked up his first NHL point with an assist on Craig Smith's goal.
  • James Neal has to have one of the most wicked releases in the game. His goal off the face off was a rocket that hit the post and then bounced off the back of Hellebuyck for breathing room for the Predators. Neal's goal was his team leading 17th of the season.
  • How good was it to see Pekka get this win. There is no doubt that he has struggled over the past 2 months. Tonight, Pekka looked relaxed in net and was less frenetic than he has been in recent games. He stopped 26 of 27 shots tonight and several of them were very high quality chances.
  • The difference in the game tonight? The Predators got the puck deep and attacked the net with traffic in front. That is the simple formula for success for this team, and if they play the way they did tonight, they will have a good opportunity to start consistently winning games. 
  • The PK was solid tonight. They killed off all 4 of the Jets power plays. The Preds power play was 1 for 3 tonight, getting their first power play goal in their last 12 attempts on their first power play.
This was a must have, solid game by the Predators. They were strong in all phases and got traffic to the net to challenge Hellebuyck.

Now they have to string together some games just like they played tonight.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Craig Smith

3. James Neal

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