It’s a good feeling when you can win four of your last five games – never mind that the the one loss is to the Red Wings. The Nashville Predators needed a “get right” series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and after yesterday’s afternoon win, they grabbed themselves another one on Sunday by a score of 3-1 to get the series sweep.
The Predators have now won five of six games against Columbus – half their wins are against the Blue Jackets this year. If only we had them on the schedule more than twice down the stretch.
Let’s break down how the game went, including the birth of #Stacheville.
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Questionable Start, Stable Finish
The Nashville Predators have seemingly been fighting bad habits to try to overcome their own shortcomings, and it was a little worrisome early in the game to see what lead to a 1-0 deficit with less than five minutes into the first period.
After a failure to clear, and turnovers in the zone allowing the Blue Jackets to create more opportunities, the Predators found themselves down early due to a Kevin Stenlund goal shot point blank on Juuse Saros. He never really had a chance to make the save.
Concerns regarding Saros getting the back-to-back start in net after yesterday’s win were valid, but after conceding the first goal, he locked it down and looked very sharp.
The team would then answer back with goal set up by two offensive players who desperately needed to get some points:
sent the puck to the corner to
, who shot towards the net, and
was there to bury it and tie things up 1-1.
The gripe against Arvidsson as of late has been his habit of shooting from 25-plus feet out, but this time, someone was actually in front to deflect the puck in the net – more of this will be nice to see, but more importantly hopefully this is a sign that Johansen and Arvidsson are getting back to the form we know they’re capable of playing.
Nashville Predators “Stacheville” Line
Eeli Tolvanen is a player the Smashville faithful have long been waiting to see full time with the team, and boy is he earning every minute of ice time he can get. He got the start on the top line with Mikael Granlund centering him along with Mr. Stacheburg himself, Filip Forsberg, playing the opposite wing.
The line has been buzzing as of late, and all three forwards also lead the team’s top power play unit.
That power play unit was exactly what was needed to give the Predators the go-ahead goal. With a beautiful setup from Captain Roman Josi, and a dish from Forsberg, Tolvanen was able to blast the puck into the net. The Predators took a 2-1 lead half way through the second period and never looked back.
For barely being old enough to drink a beer in the states, to see Tolvanen’s raw talent, and see it put with the offensive prowess of Granlund and Forsberg, is a sight to behold. Just watch for yourself.
My goodness…that has to be one of the best shots on the team. A release like that will give goalies nightmares. It’s good to see Filbruary finished strong for Forsberg: he has 13 points in 13 games. Let’s ride that hot streak into March (and the rest of the season).
Also, don’t look now, but the Nashville Predators are no longer in the bottom third of the league on the power play (20th…but we’ll take it).
Locking It Down
The crux of the Nashville Predators has been either slow starts, or second periods that implode before the team has to save itself in the third period. However, the team has flipped that script in the last two games against the Blue Jackets.
The team sat back in the third period and let Columbus pull closer in the SOG department, but they never broke.
The offense wasn’t exactly buzzing in the final period, but it was able to do enough to control some possession time, and when the defense needed to step up, it did.
There were some concerns in the final minutes as the Blue Jackets tied the Predators in shots on goal. With just over 3 minutes left in the final period, Columbus went on the power play, and you couldn’t help but worry that they might mount a come back.
Instead, the penalty kill, a unit that has struggled and is still in the bottom three teams in the league (29th), got their first short-handed goal of the season. Josi dished an outlet pass to
, and he was able to give the Nashville Predators some insurance going up 3-1.
It isn’t always pretty, but games like this are a lot more fun to watch.
The Nashville Predators will face off against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday Night in Bridgestone Arena as a make-up game for the January 9th game that was cancelled for COVID19 protocols.
The opposite of the Predators, the Hurricanes have lost 4 of their last 5 games, but it doesn’t help when 4 of those games were against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The boys in gold will need to be sharp and ready for a team that wants to get back to winning hockey. At the same time, a win against Carolina could get the team back to .500, and set them up nicely before a series with the beatable Florida Panthers. The Predators have a chance to get hot at the right time: let’s hope we see the consistency they will need to do it.