The Nashville Predators lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena in a shootout by a 3-2 score. Several aspects of this game stand out:
The lack of high end scoring continues to plague the Predators offensively. The top line of Mike Fisher, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Marty Erat scored one goal, on the first shot of the game by Erat. He wired a shot over the glove of Blue Jacket netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. Unfortunately, this was Erat’s only shot of the game. Fisher recorded three shots on goal; Kostitsyn did not have a shot on net (he did have two assists). This is usually a formula for trouble for the Predators, and tonight, it bit them. Four shots from the top line and precious few quality chances will not usually lead to success.
Roman Josi was solid, logging 27:30 in ice time and was even on the night in plus/minus. Josi seemed to handle the workload with ease and was rarely caught out of position. He looked comfortable and meshed well with Shea Weber.
The Predators got sloppy with the puck in the second period and it cost them. Artem Anisimov worked past Paul Gaustad and tied the game with a sweet backhand over Pekka Rinne’s glove. Anisimov is a good add for the Jackets, coming over in the trade for Rick Nash from the Rangers. The Predators lack of puck possession gave the Jackets a lot of zone time and created some good chances. Anisimov made the Predators pay for some loose play with the puck.
Scott Hannan played well on the second D pairing with Kevin Klein. I like the fact that Hannan jumped in after a questionable hit on Klein and dropped the gloves. Hannan is not spectacular, but he was positionally sound and will log some quality minutes this season.
David Legwand continues to be invisible. For a second line center to record no shots on goal and never threaten offensively is beyond words.
This abbreviated season is going to be a sprint to the playoffs. No team will be afforded the luxury of time to get their game to a high level. For the Predators, the game against the Jackets should point out the fact that this team is going to have to bring their best game every night. It is imperative that the Predators play their style of hockey if they are going to be successful: shooting the puck and getting the dirty goals.
Most importantly for the Predators, the guys that are being counted on to contribute are going to have to contribute. The top two lines have to generate more chances and the team has to have more jam to their game. Own the puck and create chances.
Fail to do that, and this short season will be a long season
About the Author: A native Nashvillian that grew up with minor league hockey, I'm now a devoted Predators fan and NHL follower. I have had the privilege of allowing my children to grow up watching the Predators and seeing the joy on their face when they are at a game. By day, I am a partner in an independent investment management company in the Nashville area. I played collegiate football and graduated from the University of South Carolina and graduated from the LSU graduate School of Banking. So yes, there are real true southern hockey fans in these non-traditional markets.