Saturday, March 26, 2016

Predators Pummel Columbus 5-1

The Nashville Predators are playing for playoff positioning.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are playing out the string.

That was never more evident at the Bridgestone Arena as the Predators demolished the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1.

James Neal, Mattias Ekholm. Craig Smith, Shea Weber, and Calle Jarnkrok tallied for the Predators. Boone Jenner notched the lone goal for the BJ's.

Joonas Korpisalo faced a barrage of shots from the Predators, including a franchise record 27 in the first period. He got little help from his teammates, who mustered only 19 shots for the game.

Pekka Rinne had time to listen to his iPod, read a book, and write a couple of notes as the BJ's threatened only once in the game, and that was a goal from Boone Jenner as he poked a rebound past Rinne before the defense could get back into position.

Some observations:

  • This was as complete game by the Predators. Defensively, the Predators took away any quality scoring chances by the BJ's. Offensively, the Predators attacked all night, pouring shots on net. They played disciplined hockey, taking only 2 penalties on the night and killing them both. Perhaps the most heartening aspect of the Predators game was that they attacked all night, never letting their foot off the gas. Too often, we have seen the Predators get a lead and go into a shell. Not tonight. The attack mode was going for a full 60 minutes.
  • I know it is easy to say this was the BJ's and that they have nothing to play for, but I would strongly disagree. These players are playing for contracts and ice time, not to mention pride. Think this type of game doesn't hurt? Think pride and egos weren't bruised? The BJ's have a talented core that has yet to gel (for whatever reason), but they are NHL'ers and they have pride and the self interest to impress their coach or some other NHL team. So yes, there was something to play for on the BJ side of the ice.
  • Since February 12, the Predators have logged more points (33) than any other team in the NHL. The team has gone 14-2-5 during that stretch.
  • All time, Nashville is 54-19-7 against the BJ's, including a 32-5-4 mark at the Bridge.
  • Roman Josi picked up 3 assists to set a franchise mark for assists by a defenseman.
  • Shea Weber's power play goal moved him to second all time in goals for the franchise. Weber's 18th goal of the season gives him 164 for his career, moving him past Marty Erat (163) into second place. behind David Legwand (210).
  • James Neal scored the first goal of the game with a perfectly placed shot to give him 30 goals for the season. The last time the Predators had two 30 goal scorers was 2005-06 when Steve Sullivan and Paul Kariya accomplished the feat.
  • The Predators were only 35% in the face off dot tonight. They can get away with that against a team in the BJ's position. They cannot against a playoff team.
  • The game against the Canucks on Thursday was a slog. Tonight, the Predators came out with jump and out skated the BJ's all night. When the Predators are skating and playing with jump, they are a deadly team that can create all sorts of problems for the opposition.
  • I continue to like the play of Viktor Arvidsson. The Aardvark creates with his speed and puts all kinds of pressure on the opposing D with his pressure and speed. He HAS to get stronger, but the Aardvark is quietly becoming a player that is creating problems for the defenders he faces.
Solid win by the Preds, a win that showed they can be not only explosive but can surgically take apart an opponent. It will get tougher against some desperate opponents, but this team is gelling and playing some great hockey at the right time.

Now to keep it up.

My three stars:

1. Roman Josi

2. James Neal

3. Shea Weber

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