Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The Predators earned a much needed point against the Chicago Blackhawks, but still need to earn the two points from every game while holding the opposition off the scoreboard. It was a hard fought game that saw Chicago jump to a two-goal lead on some bonehead plays (Gill’s icing and Blum’s cheating down low to cause a two-on-one breakaway on the 4-on-4). The determination and the deployment of the “point and shoot” philosophy that Predators fans have been clamoring for since forever allowed Nashville to score two goals in the third and get the loser point after being beat in yet another shootout. Now, some retribution is in hand against the Colorado Avalanche, the Western Conference cellar-dweller that Nashville can’t seem to figure out.
Colorado held Nashville off the board three days ago scoring in overtime to beat Nashville 1-0. The earlier encounter this season saw the Avs win 6-5 while the Predators showed some potential fire in the belly and almost came back to send it to overtime. A questionable non-call might have been the difference in the game, but alas the Avalanche hold a 2-0-0 record against the Predators this season.
It wasn’t Duchene, O’Reilly or the mighty Gabriel Landeskog that sent Nashville packing three nights ago…it was Tyson Barrie with his second goal of the year. Guess who Barrie’s first goal of the year was against? Yep…Nashville. So far, Nashville has given twenty different players their first goal of the year with many being their first NHL goal ever. This trend isn’t just with this season but last year also.
Semyon Varlamov stood on his head against Nashville three nights ago and stopped four point blank chances that any other night would have been four goals for the Predators. Varlamov has lost four out of his last five games with his only win coming against Nashville in a brilliant 34 save shutout performance. His inconsistency has been problematic for the Avalanche and looked to as the main reason they are slated to be a front runner in the lottery for the #1 overall pick.
The Predators looked like the usual predictable, playing-on-their-heels team for the first 45 minutes of the Chicago game. Then something happened…something that can only be described as “point-and-shoot” hockey. They started maintaining pressure in the offensive zone by taking shots from anywhere, mostly the point, and trying to tip in or cash in on rebound chances. When the puck got away from the net, the Predators would reset to the point and repeat. This constant bombardment made Chicago look disorganized and vulnerable, especially netminder Corey Crawford after what he thought was a simple covering of the puck led to the first goal of the game by David Legwand poking it through his glove and the wickets. The second goal was caused by the utter chaos the Predators barrage afforded when Hornqvist passed it over to an awaiting Taylor Beck and his knuckleball squeaked past Crawford on the trickle of the red line.
Pekka Rinne did his best to keep the Predators in the game but a fluky goal from Saad “pinball-wizard style” got past him in the first and a peewee hockey blunder committed by Blum led to a two-on-one breakaway by Toews and Kane where the latter buried the puck flying five-hole on Rinne. The shootout is as Rinne describes “the best way to beat him and the Predators” where the Predators dropped to 2-6 in the skills competition and gain the loser point.
This week will be the true test of whether or not the Predators even have a sniff at post-season action as the teams and games get harder and more condensed with the Avalanche, Blue Jackets and Blackhawks back-to-back means four games in six days.
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