Make it five in a row. The Predators dropped their fifth-straight game last night, 4-1 to the Dallas Stars.
Nashville failed to hold the lead for the fifth-straight contest and after the Stars fourth goal, trailed by at least three goals for the third straight game.
Desperate to end a four-game skid, the Predators said all the right things leading up to last night’s faceoff, and yet, still gave up a goal within the first minute for the second-straight game.
We highlighted in our preview yesterday that Preds head coach Barry Trotz is frustrated with his team’s repetitive (and avoidable) mistakes. Trotz said, “We’ve got to play an almost perfect game in order to win right now, and we’re not doing that.”
Last night’s tilt with the Stars, neither began nor finished perfectly for the team from Music City.
Nashville took another too-many-men penalty (their fourth in five games) and couldn’t capitalize on seized momentum for the second-straight contest as they gave up a goal to the Stars, just 24 seconds after tying the contest at one.
There’s little time to mull another disappointing loss, however, as the Predators return home to face the Los Angeles Kings tonight at 7:00 pm (CST).
The Kings and Preds were put in similar places about a month ago, when each team lost their All-Star netminder. Pekka Rinne went out with a hip injury in October and Jonathan Quick exited the Kings lineup in mid-November after suffering a strained groin.
Los Angeles initially put backup Ben Scrivens between the pipes (who performed adequately), but things really took off after un-drafted, rookie goaltender Martin Jones got the nod. Rattling off eight-straight wins to start his career, Jones didn’t suffer his first loss until just before the Christmas break (falling 5-2 to the Dallas Stars).
Highly-skilled forwards have allowed the Kings to continue to climb the Western Conference standings, despite losing their ace between the pipes. Another piece of evidence showing that it’s often the 18 skaters that matter more than the single goaltender.
On the contrary, the Preds have floundered without Rinne, going 11-14-2 and dropping to 12th of 14 teams in the Western Conference. The sub-par group of forwards for Nashville haven’t been able to give any kind of “run support” to either Carter Hutton or Marek Mazanec, who have taken turns trying to be the stop-gap for the Preds.
The solid play by Jones and Scrivens shouldn’t be brush away, but it’s been clear the Kings have excelled because of their skilled power-forwards the last 20 games or so (something Nashville is only forced to dream about).
It’s going to take a lot more than just Pekka Rinne returning to the lineup for the Predators to become relevant again and taking a few lessons from the Kings might go a long way in helping Nashville over the long haul.