Thursday, February 4, 2016

Predators Lack Urgency and Effort, Get Shelled By the Flyers 6-3

The Nashville Predators need points. They wasted a great opportunity to pick up 2 points against the Philadelphia Flyers at Bridgestone Arena by playing a half-hearted game and dropping a critical contest by a 6-3 score.

Wayne Simmonds scored twice and the Flyers added goals by Matt Read, Brayden Schenn, and two goals by Claude Giroux, the last an empty netter.

Ryan Johansen, Calle Jarnkrok, and Shea Weber scored for the Predators.

Some observations:

  • The Flyers first goal came as the result of a breakaway after a brutal non-call for interference on the Flyers. Michael Raffl skated into two Predators and took them out of the play, allowing Read to skate in an beat Rinne for the first goal of the game. How the officials don't make that call is beyond me, but it is an embarrassment to the League that a call gets blown so badly.
  • Simmonds scored on a follow up of his breakaway. Rinne made the first stop, but Simmonds gathered his rebound and tucked it between Rinne's skate and the post. The play was set up when Shea Weber broke his stick and in the process of retrieving another one, Simmonds got behind him for the score.
  • The Predators had ample opportunities on the power play, but could only capitalize once off a blast by Weber that he blew past Steve Mason. Other than that score, the Predators power play was inept. They had a 4 minute power play in the first period and generated only 2 shots. The power play is lacking a hard edge and a player that will go to the front of the net and create havoc. Instead, this unit is too content to float and toss the puck around the perimeter. It looks pretty, but is highly ineffective.
  • I am going to call the experiment of constant line juggling by Head Coach Peter Laviolette a failure. The constant changes have disrupted chemistry and leaves the forwards looking uncertain and unsettled. I understand the need to mix up line. Occasionally. Not all the time. And the lack of chemistry and cohesiveness among the forwards is hurting this team.
  • The Predators lack snarl. This team has no edge and a player that will be a shift disturber. There a re talented and dangerous forwards, but the Predators have players that more often than  not are not going to the hard areas and claiming that ice. This makes them very easy to defend and makes it more difficult to score goals in this time of the season where hard hockey is the norm.
  • That said, I like the play of Miikka Salomaki. He is physical and hustles all over the ice. He is by far the most physical forward that the Predators have on their roster. 
  • Rinne didn't have an exceptional game, but two breakaways and a perfect pass to Schenn alone at the side of the crease were difficult to stop. He didn't make some outstanding stops but he didn't get a lot of help in front of him either.
  • Trailing going into the third period, it was almost inevitable that the Predators would absorb another loss. This team has only won 2 games this season when trailing going into the third period. They are now 2-15-3 when trailing after 2 periods, and that is awful.
  • Filip Forsberg will be an elite player. Right now, however, he is on a dry spell and I get the feeling that he is trying to do too much with the puck on his stick. Skating into two or more defenders is usually a formula for turning over the puck, which he did on multiple occasions tonight.
  • Forsberg, Mike Ribeiro, and Barrett Jackman were all -3 tonight. 
The Predators are going to need, I believe, 100 points to make the playoffs. With 30 games remaining and 56 points on their ledger, that means the team is going to have to go 22-8 to get to that point total.

The runway is getting short for this team.

Keep playing without a sense of urgency and desperation, and they will run out of runway very quickly.

My three stars:

1. Wayne Simmonds

2. Claude Giroux

3. Calle Jarnkrok

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