Right now, the Predators just aren’t very good as a team. Fortunately for Nashville, Pekka Rinne is very good.
Rinne pitched a shutout on 33 shots against to earn his third win of the season. Nashville got goals from Niclas Bergfors and Sergei Kostitsyn with Brian McGratton, Jack Hillen, Craig Smith and Matt Halischuk earning assists in the game.
I liked that…
- Pekka Rinne is proving that if the team in front of him is breathing, he’s going to give a team a chance just about every night.
- Craig Smith and Colin Wilson are playing extremely well right now. Both are playing with speed and energy.
- Jon Blum’s diving save was a game changer. With Pekka out of the net, if Blum hadn’t made that save, Calgary would have tied the game at 1 and who knows how it would have turned out then.
- Matt Halischuk is playing a real gritty and smart game right now.
- Great job by Craig Smith in the faceoff dot.
And then, there were these things…
- Predators played a disciplined game, but were still outshot 33-14. That’s not going to cut it.
- The Predators are having an extremely tough time winning any of the puck battles. They’re not winning the battles in the offensive zone or in the defensive zone. This is one the biggest reasons for the shot differential.
- When they actually win one of those puck battles in the offensive zone, it too often gets past a defenseman forcing everyone to tag up. That just kills any momentum they might have had.
- The penalty kill allowed too many uncontested shots from the players driving or drifting into the slot.
- Trotz still has to hide and protect that third pairing- much more than last season. Francis Bouillon will help some, but only some. They miss the physical presence of Shane O’Brien, particularly in winning some of those puck battles.
These Predators have a long ways to go right now. There are certainly some bright spots, and today’s game against Calgary was much better than their game against Vancouver. Even so, I don’t expect a lot of wins until they get better without Pekka stealing them.
When Erat and Fisher return that should help. Both should help win more puck battles if they’re not tentative in returning from injury. I don’t think Bouillon will help that much on that third pairing, so that might be a significant problem for long time.
You are invited to follow me on Twitter (@SingletonPreds). For game recaps of all Predators games as well as great insights on the Predators and the NHL, check out my HockeyIndependent colleague, Mark Willoughby (@TheViewFrom111).
About the Author: Nashville Predators Blogger, Software Engineer (C#.NET), Novice Woodworker, Southern Cook, Husband, Father of Two. You may contact me at David.R.Singleton AT gmail.com.