Thursday, April 21, 2016

Series Even at 2 as Predators Outworked and Outplayed in 4-1 Loss

The Nashville Predators returned to Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday with a 2-0 lead and control of their series with the Anaheim Ducks.

By Thursday night, they had pissed it away.

For the second straight game, the Predators were outworked, lost puck battles, and were stymied in all aspects of their game by the Ducks, losing 4-1 and making it a 3 game series with the Ducks in total control.

The Predators gave up the slot all night and the Ducks took advantage. Ryan Getzlaf, Nate Thompson, Jamie McGinn, and Andrew Cogliano all scored from prime scoring areas as the Predators defense hung Pekka Rinne out to dry.

Frederick Andersen had a busier night than Tuesday, but turned away all but a close in scoring chance from Mike Fisher.

Some observations:

  • The Predators have been outworked all over the ice in these last 2 games. The Ducks have made a commitment to forecheck aggressively and attack the puck, and the Predators look completely confused and helpless against the pressure by the Ducks. It is not like they haven't seen this before, but the Predators have been totally inept in handling the pressure.
  • Speaking of inept, the power play was 0-6. The Predators have only 1 power play goal in 19 attempts in this series. I know the Ducks have the top rated penalty kill, but the Predators have looked particularly bad. If, and that is a big if, they get in the zone, the Ducks have done a good job of attacking the puck and taking away shooting lanes. It doesn't help the Predators that they usually fail to get net front presence and take away the eyes of Andersen. This unit has to get going or it will continue to bite the Predators in the butt.
  • The failure to keep the Ducks out of the slot is disappointing and it will cost the Predators this series. Where the Predators can't get to the slot, the Ducks, by contrast, have had free rein from in close. This has to get cleaned up quickly or the series will be over in 6.
  • Mike Ribeiro has been awful. A non-factor in this series, he has contributed nothing to the play of the team in any zone. This is not a time to be a passenger, but Ribeiro has been nothing but excess baggage. 
  • At least the Predators broke their scoring drought. Until Fisher's goal, the Predators had not scored a goal in 5 periods.
  • The Ducks have the number one power play in the League, and the Predators penalty killers have played their tails off. They killed off all 5 Ducks power plays tonight.
Let's face it, the Ducks have exerted their will on the Predators, and the good guys haven't matched the intensity and effort of their opponent.

Unless they do, this series is over in 6 games.

The next test comes Saturday in Anaheim. We will find out what kind of character this team has.

Hopefully, it will be a positive response.

My three stars:

1. Frederick Andersen

2. Nate Thompson

3. Mike Fisher

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