This week was tough to watch. There are plenty of things to discuss so let’s dive in!
10/26/16 @ Anaheim
The Good: Colin Wilson scored on the power play and the game ended mercifully after 3 periods. That’s it.
The Bad: Yeesh. Where the hell do I begin? Everything was done in an extremely nonchalant manner for the Preds on Wednesday. The first period actually wasn’t terrible, but Rinne gave up a bit of a softie. After a series of Great passing by the Ducks, a soft backhander beat Pekka to the far side of the net and gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Another glaring flaw in Nashville’s game was that they were incapable of taking care of the puck. Four of the goals scored by Anaheim came straight off turnovers or from the Predators’ inability to clear the puck out of their defensive zone. The most frustrating part of these turnovers is that they are self-inflicted wounds. Not making high risk passes and looking before you make a pass can cut all these down, but on Wednesday, the Preds seemed not to grasp this concept.
The Ugly: The power play was U-G-L-Y. It ain’t got no alibi. Technically, 3 goals were scored in the 5 power play chances the Preds got. Unfortunately, two of those were for the Ducks. On the first short-handed goal, Mike Ribeiro had THE MOST CASUAL PASS OF ALL TIME right to Anaheim. I mean, the play Ribs made would’ve been inexcusable in Lower C beer league hockey, let alone the NHL. It was intended for PK Subban at the blueline, but it got about halfway there before it stopped. The Ducks picked it up, blew past a handcuffed Subban, and Jakob Silfverberg scored on the ensuing 2-on-1. The second shorty for the aquatic birds came when Mattias Ekholm couldn’t quite corral the puck as it came up to the point along the boards. Instead of just getting back deep into the Ducks’ end, he tried to make a play with it. The speedy Andrew Cogliano proceeded to pick the pocket of Ekholm and deked out Marek Mazanec on a breakaway.
Final Score: 6-1, Duckies. This one made my eyes bleed, but those type of games happen over the course of 82 games.
10/26/16 @ Los Angeles
The Good:Right off the bat, this game was a far better effort than the night before in Anaheim. For most of the game, the Preds did a much better job of not turning the puck over and limiting high risk scoring chances for the Kings. Nashville finally scored first (Hallelujah, Praise Jeebus). It came on an excellent effort from Craig Smith who reached for the puck and got a shot off surrounded by three Kings all while falling to his tush. The NHL’s most electric sniper, Viktor Arvidsson, scored his 4th goal of the season. It came on a short-handed 2-on-1 opportunity just 24 hours after the Preds handed out short handed chances to the Ducks like they were Reese’s Cups on Halloween. Pekka Rinne was outstanding as he stopped 42 of 45 shots on goal by the Kings. He was especially exceptional when the Predators were on the penalty kill in OT. His pads looked like a set of pinball flippers as he turned away shot after shot.
The Bad: Obviously giving up 45 shots is not ideal. They weren’t all incredibly dangerous, but you still can’t let that many get to Rinne. I’ll cut them some slack on the first goal. It was a power play goal by Jake Muzzin that knuckled so much that it looked like Tim Wakefield threw it at Rinne. The second goal was more iffy. Anze Kopitar came in on the rush for the Kings, threw it on net at a bad angle, and it trickled through Rinne’s large 6′ 4″ frame. As it was about to cross the line, PK Subban attempted to clear it, but he cleared it into Rinne. Tyler Toffoli was on the doorstep in front of the net and just tapped it home to tie the game at 2. Nashville’s overtime woes appear to have carried over from last season. After a huge penalty kill in OT, the Kings won a face-off in Nashville’s end. After some movement offensively, it looked like the Preds may have had a miscommunication because no one picked up Anze Kopitar at the point. He threw a shot on net, it got redirected off a skate and on to Jeff Carter’s stick as he tapped it home to win the game for Los Angeles.
The Ugly: Damn it, James.
two minutes for james nealing pic.twitter.com/zmJmXtUdzj
— GIF Grand Maester (@myregularface) October 28, 2016
Final Score: 3-2, Henry VIIs in OT
10/29/16 @ San Jose
Full disclosure: I did not get to watch any of this one because I was at a social gathering to watch the Vols (I hate my life). I am relying on highlights and box scores more than usual for this one.
The Good: Rinne made some quality saves as far as I can tell. He didn’t get any help at all in the 1st period as it was a shooting gallery for San Jose. James Neal FINALLY scored. He came into the game with 27 SOG and nothing to show for it. Hopefully that sparks him and he can get going. Kevin Fiala had 3 SOG in less than 10 minutes of ice time. It’s great to see the rookie playing with confidence and trying to make the most of his opportunities. P.K. Subban also had a nifty between the legs maneuver even though it didn’t result in a goal.
The Bad: Pekka Rinne’s rebound control was horrendous. San Jose’s first goal came after Joonas Donskoi poked home a loose puck that was sitting between Rinne’s pads. Granted, that opportunity came after some abysmal defense by the Preds. The second Shark goal was a shot that ricocheted out off the end board and onto Joe Pavelski’s stick. He banked it off of Rinne’s pad and in. That was bit of an unlucky bounce, but Rinne had a chance to secure the shot and couldn’t. Those are the types of bounces Nashville just isn’t getting right now. The last goal Pekka gave up was on a rebound that he kicked right out to the Sharks’ Tommy Wingels and he put it right back for the goal. Matt Irwin and Yannick Weber continue to struggle. Irwin has been better than Matt Carle, but that’s not saying much. The bottom defensive pairing has been weighing down the Preds. Anthony “Uncle Tony” Bitetto being out has hurt them much more than I anticipated.
The Ugly: Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen still haven’t scored. Going into the game, Forsberg had a measly 15 SOG through 7 games and Johansen had just 9. Against San Jose, Johansen had just 2 shots and Forsberg had 1. ONE! Nashville NEEDS them to shoot more. Plain and simple. I’m not sure if it’s a confidence issue or if they are trying to do too much, but that needs to get solved before the Predators can get going offensively.
Final Score: 4-1, Jaws
This week sucked. It just did. There’s no two ways about it. This team has so much damn talent and anyone that watched them play last year knows what they are capable of. Pair that with the addition of Subban, and this start has been wildly disappointing. However, it is still incredibly early. Last year, the Canadiens started 9-0-0 and ended up missing the playoffs entirely. The Pittsburgh Penguins were out of the playoffs in December and they hoisted the Cup over their heads in June. Continue to practice patience. This team has all the pieces to be great from the front office down. It just is taking longer than we thought.
Grading The Preds
We give the boys in gold a grade every week on a scale from Andrei Kostitsyn to Tomas Vokoun. This week’s grade…
Sergei Kostitsyn: Ugly and not much defense
Little Caesar’s Hot N’ Sweaty Preds Facebook Take of the Week
So many to choose from this week, but here’s your winner:
Why did we trade Weber for Subban again? Doesn’t seem to match up well with our line. Also Fisher seems to be a terrible Captain. -Rob B.
I hate it when people don’t match up well with our line, too! Yeah, Mr. Underwood, it’s all your fault! Congrats, Rob. You’ve won a mini hockey stick signed by former Nashville Predator, Andy Delmore!