Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Inexcusable is the word for Nashville’s play against the Anaheim Ducks. Coach Trotz called a complete player and staff only meeting and lips were tight afterward. Nashville who has long been known for it’s stellar defense and goaltending has allowed 14 goals in the last 4 games…inexcusable. After starting the year on a tear, the San Jose Sharks had two regulation wins in the month of February going 2-6-4. For the most part the games have been low scoring affairs which is contrary to the overwhelming offensive talent San Jose possesses.
Patrick Marleau has twelve goals on the year. This bears repeating because he has double the goals of the top-scorer on Nashville (Wilson with 5). The Sharks top two lines are a who’s-who of scoring talent with Joe Thornton leading the way with 20 points (4 goals, 16 assists). Jumbo Joe always finds ways to set up his teammates and his size and strength on the puck is the stuff of legend. One can’t forget about Martin Havlat where one of his three goals this season came against Nashville.
The Sharks goaltending this year has been above average with Niemi coming into his own with an outstanding GAA of 1.88, 8 wins and 1 shutout. While Niemi has done his job of limiting the other teams goal total, the Sharks aren’t giving him much goal support. In the last nine games, the Sharks have only scored 12 goals. That is only 1.33 goals per game and not enough offense for a team that is loaded down with puck-sniping forwards.
Similarly, aside from the five goal outburst against the Dallas Stars, the Predators have only scored two goals in three games (Vancouver, Detroit, Anaheim) while allowing 14 goals in a four game span. Nashville prides itself on defense and goaltending and both have been subject to all out scrutiny and disapproval. Scott Hannan is a team leading -9 and is becoming a liability on the ice. He has been moved around to line up with Weber, Klein and Ellis and can’t seem to find the right fit. When all the other defensemen on the roster are at -1 or above, Hannan’s -9 is a glaring issue that needs to be corrected with a quickness. Maybe a Victor Bartley call up to shake things up is in order.
Nashville fans have grown accustomed to the Predators at least getting a point out of most games, but three ugly regulation losses out of the last four games has been a bitter pill to swallow. Another scary proposition is that Nashville sits tentatively in 6th in the West with four teams only one point behind them and many with a couple games in hand on the Predators. The ship needs to be righted quickly and it starts with Pekka Rinne. Rinne will more than likely get the start tonight, but he will need to rest at some point. While the Sharks are struggling to score goals, it might be better for Mason to get the start against the Sharks and save Rinne for the now red-hot L.A. Kings.
Game time is at 9:30 P.M. Central time and can be heard on 102.5 the Game and viewed locally on FS Tennessee. If you like what you’re reading or have questions/comments feel free to write us below or follow us on Twitter @Preducated and @ThePredatorial.