Why sugarcoat it? What an absolute disaster by the Nashville Predators.
After the team fell short in its comeback hopes on Thursday night, they were primed for a chance to come out swinging and pull a win from the team they have shown they are capable of beating. Instead, what transpired was self-implosions, the usual bad habits that are unacceptably not corrected, and an old-fashioned beat down handed to the team by the Florida Panthers.
Sigh…we may have to start a support group soon.
Fast Start for Nashville Predators, but Unsustainable
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The team came out buzzing in what looked like an opposite image of the first game in the series. The Nashville Predators had the first five shots on goal, and they looked to be very much in control of the game right from the rip. This manifested in some frustration on the Panthers side, and ultimately gave way to a power play opportunity.
That power play would be crucial as it set up a goal from none other than the “chosen one”,
, who has been an absolute revelation on that top power play unit. As an added bonus, this goal was also the 200th career assist for #Stacheburg himself, Mr.
. Check it out in the clip below:
It seemed like the team was on the right track and playing the right kind of hockey, but if there’s one thing that can crush a team on its heels like the Predators have been, its complacency. That’s exactly what happened.
With less than 15 seconds left in the period, a defensive lapse and mental break down allowed the Florida Panthers’ Aaron Ekbald to get a break away goal passed Pekka Rinne. The lead the team had hoped to take into the locker room, along with any positive momentum, was crushed with it.
The Wheels on the Bus Fall Off
The one thing the Nashville Predators have unfortunately been known for, more often than not this season, is absolutely abysmal second periods. After the lapse that led to the tying goal, you would think there would be some very choice words to follow in the dressing room. The team came out, with fans expecting them to answer back. Unfortunately, whatever answer they though they had, was flat out wrong.
With less than two minutes into the second period, Jonathan Huberdeau was able to get a quick breakaway, and Rinne never had a chance. The team never really mounted an offensive opportunity that was sustainable enough to answer back. Just after the ten minute mark in the second, the Panthers went on a 2 on 1 breakaway, and Noel Acciari ripped a shot from the circle past Rinne to make the score 3-1. The route was on, but not over.
With less than two minutes to go in the period, the Predators still had not answered back offensively. Noel Acciari was able to slip past the defense and bury a back-hander for his second goal, but unfortunately not his last, taking a 4-1 lead into the second intermission.
No Glorious Third Period
After having absolutely no answers for the Florida Panthers and their excellent offense in transition, the Nashville Predators needed a goal of their own to get back into the game. Anyone who’s seen three of four games this season knows the Predators do most of their heavy lifting in the third period, and this looked like it would be another example of that.
was able to pick up the Filip Forsberg rebound after a
face-off win set up the shot, and he buried it in the back of the net before pulling the imaginary monkey off his back as the team crawled back in to the game, down 4-2:
You would think this would be the start of the comeback run. It wasn’t.
As the team tried to get themselves back in the game, the Panthers got back into doing what they do: beating the team in the neutral zone, and not allowing many chances in the offensive zone. Of course, it doesn’t help when the Predators best offensive weapon, #Stacheburg of Stacheville was put in the penalty box for arguably a flop of the year candidate from Panthers Goalie Viktor Bobrovsky.
We’re still waiting for the clip where they slow down and show just how minimal the contact was, but Bobrovsky should be an early favorite for the Oscar.
The Predators looked better in the third period than they did in the second, but could not overcome poor transitions. One of these transitions came from a Tolvanen shot on goal that was blocked. Florida found the outlet and passed to Frank Vatrano, he maneuvered around Mikael Granlund who then went flying into Rinne, and scored on the rush.
If taking a 5-2 lead wasn’t the nail in the coffin the Panthers were looking for, they found it with just over three minutes to go in the third period. With not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Predators jerseys in front of Pekka Rinne to clear the puck, you would think they’d keep their goaltender safe. Not so. In spite of the defense down front, Noel Acciari was able to net his third goal of the game for a hat trick, making the score 6-2, and all that was left was the crying.
What Comes Next?
The Nashville Predators are preparing to go on an 8 game road trip, and it isn’t exactly a friendly schedule. They will fly to Dallas tonight where they will take on the Stars tomorrow afternoon at 7:00pm CST. Though the Stars have struggled, they’re hungry to right the ship, and it may not pan out well for this sliding Predators team.
The Nashville Predators then play a series at Carolina, a series at Tampa Bay, a series at Florida, and a game at Dallas before finally returning home to play the Detroit Red Wings on March 23rd. I would imagine we may have seen some Predators play their last game in Bridgestone (in a Predators jersey, at least) today. Who knows…if the team continues to show bad habits and little-to-no progress, maybe some faces behind the bench will change as well.
The team is injured, and chemistry is lacking, but the Predators have the talent to compete when they can put even 40 minutes out of 60 together. They need to show improvement in at least a few of these upcoming road games, and even then, the writing still feels like its on the wall.
It’s gonna be a long two weeks.