Saturday, May 7, 2016

Lackluster and Lethargic, Predators Fall to the Sharks 5-1

After their 3 OT marathon, the Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks were at it again, this time at the SAP Center. The teams entered game 5 tied at 2 games apiece and both squads looking to play through fatigue and trying to solve the others stellar netminder.

Patrick Marleau gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead, sliding a pass under the stick of Mattias Ekholm and under the pad of Pekka Rinne.

The Predators tied the game after Marleau's goal as the line of Mike Fisher, James Neal, and Colin Wilson continued their torrid play. Fisher was the beneficiary of a fine play by Neal and he poked  a shot by Martin Jones.

The Predators left Joe Pavelski alone in the slot and he beat Rinne with a blistering wrister to make it 2-1 heading into the intermission.

A horrible line change and defensive breakdown sent Logan Couture in alone and he beat Rinne to make it 3-1 early in the second period.

Joe Pavelski scored on the power play to make it 4-1.

Melker Karlsson made it 5-1 when he scored in the final minute against Carter Hutton, who had come in for Rinne.

Some observations:

  • Mike Ribeiro drew back into the line up and centered Calle Jarkrok and Viktor Arvidsson on the third line. This was Ribeiro's first action since being scratched in games 3 and 4.
  • Tommy Wingels was scratched for the Sharks and Dainus Zubrus was inserted as a 4th line forward. Zubrus was seeing his first action since a game against the Arizona Coyotes on April 9th.
  • The Sharks opened the game with lots more jump than the Predators, who were back on their heels to begin the game. Not how the team wanted to start. Instead of taking the attack to the Sharks, the Predators started looking like they were just trying to hold on. That style of play led to the Sharks opening the scoring off a goal by Marleau.
  • The line of Fisher, Wilson, and Neal have gelled almost immediately. Their production has been superb and their play and chemistry have given the Sharks fits in this series. They have combined for 17 points since being put together for the playoffs.
  • Brutal defense by the Predators on Pavelski's goal. Left aloine in the low slot and Rinne never had a chance on the snap shot. The defense has to be aware of where the threats are, especially when the top line of the Sharks is on the ice. Instead, they completely lost the leading goal scorer for the Sharks.
  • What a brutal changes and sloppy defensive breakdown early in the second period by the Predators. That is the inept play that the Predators cannot have against a team the caliber of the Sharks. 
  • This is a disappointing game by the Predators in that they had no push back and no response to the push from the Sharks. Great teams answer, and the Predators were not even remotely close to answering.
  • The Predators won games 3 and 4 on the back of a relentless forecheck. Tonight, the forecheck was spotty at best and mostly non-existent. Letting the Sharks take the zone with speed is not a formula for success for this team, and tonight, that is exactly what the Predators did.
  • Pekka Rinne wasn't good, but the way this team played in front of him tonight, he would have had to be perfect for the Predators to have a chance. He wasn't and the team found itself in a hole from which they could not crawl out.
  • The Predators did not do a good job of getting to the prime scoring areas. The Sharks did a good job of forcing them outside and the Predators did not have anyone creating havoc in front. That has been their formula for success in the playoffs, and tonight, they showed no will or commitment to do that.
  • The Predators have NEVER won a playoff game in San Jose. Let that sink in for a moment.
A hugely disappointing effort by the Predators. You knew the Sharks would come out strong to defend home ice, but the lack of response and effort by the Predators is unacceptable.

With a chance to put the Sharks at a huge disadvantage, the Predators showed no fire, no will, no heart.

Now they have to turn it around and face a must win back at Bridgestone Arena.

Let's hope they have their hearts in it.

My three stars:

1. Joe Pavelski

2. Joe Thornton

3. Mike Fisher

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