I know I’ve watched a bad Nashville Predators hockey game when I don’t even want to write the recap. The thing is, it didn’t have to turn out the way it did. Nashville actually looked really good as a team in the first period but everything fell apart after that.
The team that played the first period wasn’t the same team that showed up for the second period. Chicago was able to effectively control the game, which they hadn’t really done in the first period when the Preds were consistently applying pressure. Once that paradigm took hold the game was essentially over.
Pekka Rinne was still at the top of his game tonight but the Preds’ game plan of relying on him to win the game for them fell victim to the double whammy of fluke bounces and an offensive drought. Even Pekka isn’t going to stop a shot like Marcus Kruger’s, which deflected twice on the way to the net. And when you can score by banking a puck off of Jonathan Toews’ chest, you’re getting some serious breaks. But outside of that, Nashville wasn’t mounting any real offensive pressure and that meant the puck was played in their end of the ice more often than not. The effect of fluke bounces gets magnified in those kind of games.
Yes, the Nashville Predators were playing against the league’s top team tonight. Yes, they were playing the second half of a back-to-back. Even given those points, Nashville still looked bad from the second period on. They were outshot 10-3 and 10-4 in the first and second periods, and the only time they began to really generate shots was once Chicago let off the gas, already up 3-0 in the third.
Trying to compete with an offense that regularly turns out efforts like this, even when they aren’t playing against the league’s top team, is downright Sisyphean. The offense needs more help than just the return of Patric Hornqvist. Its top lines were outplayed by the Blackhawks’ bottom line, which is never a good sign.
The only good news here is that the Nashville Predators get some rest before welcoming the San Jose Sharks to Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night. Maybe some sleep will get a little jump back in their step.