If Jeff Carter scores another natural hat trick against the Nashville Predators, his next one will be free. For the second straight season, Carter reeled off three uninterrupted goals in a single game against Pekka Rinne. Last season he did it in a Columbus Blue Jackets sweater. Now he’s done it for the Los Angeles Kings.
Nashville actually managed to compete with the Kings for most of the first 40 minutes. In fact, they were by far the better team over the first 15 minutes of the game. In what’s becoming an all-too-familiar scene, they failed to score while dominating and then let their opponents take control. Carter lifted his season total to 14 goals with one goal at 5:28 of the second period and two within 19 seconds of each other to open the third:
When “at least it wasn’t a shutout” is what you’re hanging your hat on regularly, you’re just a bad hockey team. There’s no way around it.
- Pekka Rinne doesn’t have much reason to have confidence in the team playing in front of him. On Jeff Carter’s second goal, David Legwand failed to pick him up – instead he let Carter get open, busying himself in the middle of the ice with one hand off his stick. And the third goal came when Roman Josi didn’t protect the puck at the blue line, allowing Carter to walk in untouched. Those are the sorts of plays that have been happening more often as Pekka’s slump has extended. He has now lost four of his last five starts, surrendering 20 goals for an average of 4.0 per game.
- For the second straight game, the sole reason Nashville avoided a shutout was a goal by Gabriel Bourque. He’s the hardest-working Nashville player not named Pekka Rinne.
At the other end of the spectrum, that Legwand goof on the second Jeff Carter goal was just ugly. I’m beginning to hope he gets dealt to some desperate, overpaying, middle-of-the-road playoff contender before the trade deadline. He probably has more good hockey in him somewhere down the road but he’s a huge liability at this point.
- The Kings are now 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. Their turnaround is one of the most impressive stories in the Western Conference halfway through the season.
- Compare the Kings’ recent success with the Nashville Predators, who have now lost five of their last six games. In those losses they have only scored three goals total. They are 3-6-1 in their last 10 and the existence of the Columbus Blue Jackets is the only reason they aren’t in last place in their division. Nashville actually seems to be getting progressively worse, just as the window of opportunity for making the playoffs is about to begin shrinking with each passing day.
- Nashville gets three days off before facing the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night at Bridgestone Arena. Not to be too dramatic or anything, but it’s going to be something of a “line in the sand” moment for the Preds. Edmonton is one of just three teams currently sitting between Nashville and Columbus at the bottom of the Western Conference.