Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images
The last early afternoon showdown between the Avalanche and the Predators resulted in what could have been a thorough spanking from Colorado that turned into a 6-5 win for the Avs after what some view as a questionable non-call earlier in the game. The Predators battled hard but to no avail, similar to what happened against the Phoenix Coyotes two nights ago. The Predators are still on the precipice of the Western Conference playoff picture and with the second most games played than any other Western team, Nashville will have to win two out of every three games here on out to even sniff the top eight.
Colorado is position at the very bottom of the West with a league worst 26 points with the Florida Panthers. PA Parenteau, who a certain Predatorial blogger pegged as a must-get free agent at the start of the season, is leading the Avalanche with 14 goals and 34 points. His potential performance outside of his linemates on the Islanders was the only cause for concern with picking him up on the free agent market and he has since put all those fears to rest. Parenteau is a skilled forward who showed off his playmaking talents alongside Moulson and Tavares in New York, but with a bevy of talented forwards like Landeskog, Hejduk, O’Reilly and Duchene, Parenteau has found a group not unlike his Islander counterparts.
Semyon Varlamov has been tested numerous times in the last few games and has not fared well. He has allowed twelve goals in his last three games, being pulled in the Dallas game (February 23rd) in favor of journeyman netminder J.S. Giguere. The Avalanche have had difficulty finding the back of the net in the last few games and the allowance of goals the other way has been the crisis for Colorado for much of the season. Along with Parenteau’s 34 points and Duchene’s 33, these forwards are also a combined -15. A lack of defense and a true number one goaltender may have dug the Avs into non-playoff contention and into one of the front-runners for a high draft pick.
The Predators were also out-shined the other night giving up 5 goals in less than ten minutes of the first period in what would lead to a 7-4 drubbing from the Phoenix Coyotes. In years past, the Coyotes/Predators games were typified with low-scoring goalie battles but Phoenix came with guns blazing and lit up Rinne and Mason for 4 and 3 goals respectively.
It is not as if Pekka Rinne has been stellar over the three-game win streak. Giving up seven goals in that span can sometimes be enough for the Predators to either lose in regulation or force the overtime/shootout where the Predators and especially Rinne haven’t had much luck this year. Surprisingly with only one power play goal given up by the Predators against the Coyotes, the entire team decided to spread the deplorable defensive play across the lines and no one finished with anything worse than a -2.
It is possible the Predators may get Paul Gaustad back in the lineup against Colorado giving Nashville their much needed face-off specialist after being activated off the Injured Reserve list. Also, Craig Smith has been reassigned from Milwaukee to join Nashville, possibly in conjunction with Mike Fisher taking a puck off the hand against Phoenix.
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