Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Predators Drop Another Game to the Blues 1-0

The St. Louis Blues squared off against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena in a game that took on the characteristics of a heavyweight boxing match.

Both teams probed, took their offensive shots, and waited for the other to make a mistake to give them an opening.

It was the Predators that made the mistake, getting trapped in their own zone for a lengthy period of time and failing to clear the puck. That mistake wound up in the back of their net.

Troy Brouwer deflected a shot by Alex Pietrangelo past Pekka Rinne with 1:05 to go in regulation to give the Blues a 1-0 victory.

The Blues have won all 4 games against the Predators this season.

Some observations:

  • Shots on goal were 11 apiece at the end of 2 periods as neither team would give an inch. That changed in the third period as the Blues had the quality scoring chances while the Predators rarely threatened Brian Elliott. Rinne had to make some huge saves, including a point blank stop on Magnus Paajarvi. Rinne was solid tonight and I can't fault him on the deflection that got past him. The Blues out shot the Predators 12-5 in the third as the offense was virtually non-existent. For the game, the Blues out shot the Predators 23-16.
  • Ryan Johansen had 3 shots on net , but the rest of the Predators had no player record more than 2 shots on goal as the Blues defense did an effective job of choking off the offensive push. The Predators this season have had no answer for the heavy game the Blues play. They had better figure it out, because this is the kind of hockey every team will play between now and the end of the season.
  • The Predators were good in the face off dot, winning 57% of the draws.
  • I liked the game of Calle Jarnkrok tonight. He was aggressive in all zones and played with speed and pace. He was on a line with Craig Smith and Mike Ribeiro and this line created a few quality chances.
  • Unfortunately for the Predators, there were not enough quality chances. Very little traffic to the net meant that Brian Elliott had a fairly easy night.
  • This is the 6th time this season that the Predators have been shut out.
  • There is no doubt that the Central Division is the toughest division in the NHL. If the Predators are going to climb into a solid playoff position, they are going to have to pick up their game against their division rivals. After tonight, the Predators are 6-10-2 against their Central opponents. 
  • The Predators PK was solid, killing off all 3 of the Blues power plays. This unit continues to be effective and has really stepped up their play.
  • On the other hand, the Predators power play was 0-3 and never really threatened the net. This unit has started to go cold, and the team needs this unit to pick up their sense of urgency and pace.
This is a tough loss for the Predators as it is a divisional loss and keeps them barely in the playoff hunt. With a chance to make up some ground  on the Blues and put some distance between the other teams chasing them, they sputtered.

It is not going to get any easier between now and the end of the season. Teams are going to be desperate and playing hard hockey.

They Predators are going to have to do the same.

My three stars:

1. Troy Brouwer

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Alex Pietrangelo

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