Saturday, March 12, 2016

Slow Start and Sloppy Defense Cost the Predators In 4-2 Loss to the Canucks

The Nashville Predators have picked up points in 14 straight games. They were looking to make it 15 with a stop at Rogers Arena to take on the Vancouver Canucks.

The Predators started the game acting like just showing up would be good for a win. The Canucks out worked and out skated the Predators all over the ice and for a full 20 minutes. That effort resulted in 2 goals in spite of Pekka Rinne standing on his head to make some great saves. Sven Baertschi and Derek Dorsett both scored off defensive breakdowns to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead.

The Predators showed some life in the second period, getting shots on net and scoring twice. Both goals were set up by great assists by Roman Josi as he set up Mike fisher for the first Predators goal. Fisher drove the slot and redirected Josi's pass past Ryan Miller. His second assist set up Colton Sissons for a sweet goal.

Unfortunately, the Predators defense broke down once again as those 2 Predator goals were sandwiched around a goal by Bo Harvat, who beat the Predators defenders to the front of the net for an easy goal.

The Predators pulled Rinne late in the third period for the extra attacker and Daniel Sedin scored the empty netter to seal the Predators fate and the game by a 4-2 margin.

Some observations:

  •  How about Prince Filip dropping the gloves? Forsberg took exception to a hit on Mike Ribeiro and dropped them with Jake Virtanen. Forsberg picked up his first fighting major of his career. Good to see his response, but you hate to see him run the risk of an injury on that type of play.
  • Rinne has to be superb in the first period. The Predators offense didn't bother to show up and he was under siege. The big netminder was equal to the task, including making a couple of spectacular saves to keep the game from getting out of hand. Unfortunately, the Canucks pressure and defensive breakdowns finally succeeded in getting shots past Rinne.
  • The Predators sluggish starts are disconcerting to say the least. Trying to dig out of a hole is not a formula for success. Tonight, the Predators were sleepwalking in the first period and it bit them in the ass. Standing around and watching a team that will not sniff the playoffs out skate you all over the ice is incredibly disappointing.
  • The Canucks first 2 goals came as a result of Predators defenders getting beat down low (Baertschi) and losing a player in the low slot (Dorsett). The defensive breakdowns left Rinne out to dry and have to be cleaned up. 
  • Good to see the Predators finally wake up in the second period as their relentless pressure finally resulted in a Mike Fisher goal. Fisher's line has been playing some very good hockey of late and they have been getting some positive results.
  • And yet once again,  the Predators D gets beat by a Canuck driving the net. This is ridiculous to see this happen so consistently. Horvat had a clear path to the front of the net by out hustling Ryan Ellis down the ice and to the net.
  • Goodness gracious is Roman Josi good or what? What a fantastic assist on Fisher's goal and then an even better one on the goal by Sissons. Josi is a solid defenseman and an exceptional offensive talent that is so dangerous carrying the puck.
  • The Predators PK has done an excellent job, killing the last 14 man advantage attempts. Some of those have been extended power plays and the Preds have shown great hustle and perseverance in killing the penalties.
  • On the other side, the Predators power play has sputtered, failing on the their last 13 attempts.

The Predators were totally inept in the first period and it cost them.

Oh, and some really sloppy defense that gave the Canucks plenty of prime opportunities.

More disturbing is the fact that the Predators have look disengaged and lethargic for good stretches of their last 2 games, games against teams that are out of the playoff race.

This is an aspect of the Predators game that has to change. It's late in the season and crunch time, and the Predators have got to bring a much better effort if they want to win these games.

Bring this same kind of effort against Edmonton on Monday night and they will get embarrassed.

My three stars:

1. Bo Horvat

2. Roman Josi

3. Ryan Miller

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