Folks, I have some bad news. It appears that the regular season Nashville Predators did not stop in a phone booth and become 2017 playoff Nashville Predators over the last few days. The same issues that plagued the Predators in Game 1 are the ones that plagued them all throughout the regular season. Nashville played right into the Stars’ hands and are now in an 0-1 series hole. I didn’t want to do this, but I do it for the people. Here’s the good, bad, and ugly.

The Good

-Well, the first period was quite good. The Predators got off to a fast start, and I thought we were seeing the return of the truly great Preds. I was wrong, but boy that first frame was fun. In the first 20 minutes at 5-on-5, the Predators had 19 shot attempts to the Stars’ 13. The Predators had 11 scoring chances to the Stars’ six. The Predators had three high-danger chances to the Stars’ one, per Natural Stat Trick. It was an encouraging start, especially considering the fact that the Predators were able to cash in on one of those chances and take the lead.

-The lone goal in that first period came off the stick of Nashville captain Roman Josi. On an fantastic individual effort, he put Matz Zuccarello in a blender and finished the play with a nice backhand shot. After having zero goals last postseason, it was good to see him get off to a quick start in this one.

-Defensemen scoring goals was the theme of the night, and when all looked lost P.K. Subban stepped up and did P.K. Subban things. With under seven minutes left, Subban spun, toe-dragged, and fired a shot by Ben Bishop. That gave Bridgestone Arena some life, but it was too little too late.

-The JoFA line carried possession tonight, which isn’t surprising in the least. They could finish any of those chances but they looked like their usual selves. They won’t be shut out for the entire series if they continue putting pressure on the Stars like they did tonight.

-While the second line on the whole was fairly ineffective once again, Kyle Turris was quite good individually. Turris was tied for second on the team in 5-on-5 shot attempts at six, per Natural Stat Trick. He led the team in 5-on-5 scoring chances with four. He led the team in 5-on-5 high-danger chances with three. I know it doesn’t mean a damn thing when he converted on zero of those, but he’s due to break through at any moment. It’s coming. I can feel it in my loins. The return of the Turrminator is imminent.

-Defensively, the Predators didn’t allow too many quality chances. While the zone exits were a major problem in the last two periods, the team actually held it together fairly well when Dallas had the puck in their zone, which was almost always.

Credit: Natural Stat Trick

-I’ll take that on most nights, but not on nights where the Preds’ Heatmap looks equally uneventful.

The Bad

-Basically 33 of the last 40 minutes were bad. The Stars stifled the Predators in the second period and for much of the third. Essentially, the Preds played right into the hands of the Stars. It became a special teams battle for a while, Nashville wasn’t making much of an effort to get to the middle of the ice, and Ben Bishop’s life was made easy without many bodies in front of him.

-Let’s begin with Nashville’s lack of offense in the final two periods. It doesn’t help that the Predators couldn’t get out of their own zone because it’s quite difficult to create scoring chances about 180 feet from your opponents’ net. Damn near impossible actually. Nashville had three 5-on-5 high-danger chances in the first period, but they had just two in the final two frames.

Credit: Natural Stat Trick

-Prior to the series, I talked about how generating shots from between the circles would be key. The Predators did not take my advice. While I can’t blame them, they should have in this instance. Ben Bishop is too good for the Predators to score on him by shooting from the outside. Well, literally any NHL goalie outside of Brian Elliott is too good to be beaten that way.

-After the game, Peter Laviolette talked about how the Preds were outplayed in the final two periods.

-How many times have we gone through this? At what point do you holding the coaching staff responsible? How can a team this good take half of a game off? Why do we even care so much about sports? Why are we here? Aren’t we all just fractions of the size of a grain of sand when compared to the rest of the universe?

-In a frustratingly predictable storyline, special teams hurt the Predators. Dallas went 1-for-3 on the power play, albeit with a lucky bounce, and Nashville’s power play went 0-for-4. After Subban’s late goal, the Predators got a man advantage. Naturally, they squandered it and lost all the moment they had going. The power play cost them points in the regular season, and it has already cost them one postseason game.

-Two of Dallas’ three goals, both scored by rookie Miro Heiskanen, came on fairly friendly bounces. On the Stars’ power play goal, Heiskanen threw the puck at the net. His shot was going well wide, but it kicked off Mattias Ekholm’s leg and into the net. On Dallas’ second goal, Heiskanen threw another shot on goal. This one went straight off the net camera and out. The official scorers said the puck was never touched, but it appeared to be deflected. Regardless, it was another low percentage shot that went in for Dallas.

-Yes, the Stars got a couple of lucky bounces, but they earned them. The hockey gods don’t reward you for getting smacked for two periods, so the Preds likely weren’t getting any bounces. That’s science.

-Now let’s talk line matchups. Laviolette insisted on playing the Sissons-Bonino-Watson line agains the Benn, Zuccarello, Hintz line, and that was a disaster. No matter how much Dallas’ second line bent the Preds’ third line over a barrel and showed them the 50 states, Lavy refused to adjust. I’d think he’d make a change for Game 2, but I’m not confident there. The Bonino line was the one that got burnt on Dallas’ lone goal that game from less than 30 feet away. Bonino lost track of Zuccarello around the net, and the Stars’ trade deadline acquisition potted a rebound with no one around him.

-In fairness to Laviolette, I’m not sure what other option he really had because the second line wasn’t great as a whole either. Smith, Turris, and Granlund got smoked by the Seguin, Janmark, Radulov line, and it wasn’t particularly close. That should set off some alarms because Nashville has better depth than Dallas on paper, but it certainly didn’t play out that way. If Dallas’ depth wins the day, the Predators could be in big trouble. The second line has GOT to produce SOME offense to win this series.

The Ugly

-I hate to do this to all eight of you who read this reaction, but take everything I’ve said above and throw it out the window. This game falls on the shoulders of two people and only two people. Their names are “Big” and “Rich”. That dynamic duo that has put out such hits as “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”, “Comin to Your City”, and “Party Like Cowboyz” was chosen to sing the national anthem. I think we can all agree that this loss is on their bad mojo and just move on to Game 2.

-When you bring the owner of a tourist trap called Redneck Riviera to be a hype man for your team, you get what you deserve. The Preds just need to make better choices moving forward and they’ll be fine.

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