In professional sports there is a need to chase perfection. Baseball has the perfect game, football has the perfect 2-minute drill, and evidently, in hockey, the Nashville Predators are chasing the perfect shot. In last night’s 4-3 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues, the Predators were outshot 39-24 and took no shots in overtime. I don’t care how little you know about hockey, everyone knows that is not a recipe to win games.
The Predators lack of shots on goal was not due to lack of opportunities. They did a much better job last night getting into the offensive zone than Saturday night against Columbus. It seemed once they got in to position to shoot, they passed instead. The worst example of the “pass first, shoot second” mentality came in the 3rd period during a Predators power play. The Preds had every opportunity to shoot and put the game away, but instead they skated around and passed the puck. Now, I will agree that the Predators passing and puck handling does need practice, but during a power play is not the time to do so. Sitting in the arena I actually thought the fans were going to jump the glass and go shoot the puck themselves. I’m not sure if this is Coach Barry Trotz’s game plan or if it is due to the fact that the “shooters” don’t have the confidence to pull the trigger. Either way this is an issue that needs a remedy…and quickly!
Here are some other questions after last night’s game against the Blues…
- Craig Smith
What in the world is wrong with Craig Smith?? Reports out of the shortened training camp was that Smith looked bigger, stronger, and on the brink of a great season. If that’s the case, where is that guy? Last I checked NHL forwards are expected to take shots. Then tell me why Smith literally whiffed on two shots last night? And why, after that happened, do you put that same guy in the shoot out?
Where was the defense last night? (and don’t give me the whole “we don’t have Ryan Suter” story). Roman Josi is doing just fine filling the gap that was created when he left. It seems that more often than not, the defense was out of position last night. Shea Weber doesn’t seem to have his top game back and there is only so much a guy like Ryan Ellis can do. I’m not sure if its lack of communication on the ice or just the fact all 3 defensive parings are relatively new, but something is not working. Pekka Rinne is an excellent goal tender, but when your defense leaves you high and dry you can’t expect him to be Superman. The Predators need to realize that it’s not Rinne’s job to bail them out of games and he’s just as human and prone to mistakes as everyone else.
The game against the Blues was not all bad. In fairness, the Predators did look much improved from their game on Saturday. There were even a couple of standout players in Colin Wilson and Patric Hornqvist. Wilson seemed to have found his groove and his home on the second line with Hornqvist and David Legwand. His goal in the first period off a feed from Hornqvist seemed to boost his confidence and Wilson played with more intensity than he did in the first game. He even managed to stay on his skates! Patric Hornqvist looks like a guy who is in midseason form of a contract year. His work playing in Sweden and Switzerland during the lockout is obviously paying off. Hornqvist finished the night with 3 points (2 assists and 1 goal) and where was he for two of those points? In front of the goal of course! 😉
To say for the Predators to go into Minnesota tonight and pick up their first win of the season is a tall order, would be an understatement. This will be the third game for the Preds in four days where two of those games went into overtime/shootout. You know these guys have to be feeling the effects. It would also be irresponsible to say that the Suter storyline is not going to play any factor in tonight’s game. If the Predators can go in as a cohesive group willing to shot the puck, I think they can pull off the win. If not…it’s going to be a long seven game road trip.