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Predators Fading into the Sunset, get Stomped by the Blue Jackets 4-0


Courtesy of ESPN

Taking A Look At My Prediction: In my pre-game thoughts, here’s what I said

Win, Loss, Win, Loss…time for a Win for the Predators. I’m 1-3 in predictions so far since I started this blog about 9 days ago and I’m hoping to get a LITTLE bit better than that. The Predators need to put a choke hold on teams that are under the 8th Place-marker and they’ll start tonight against the Jackets.

Predators get back on track with a 3-2 Shootout win against the Jackets

I’m to the point where I may stop predicting games for the Predators as I am 1-4 in my 5 predictions since starting this blog. This game looked rough in the first, ok in the second, then fell apart in the third, but we’ll get to that in the synopsis below.

Special Teams:
Powerplay – 0 for 2, 0%
Powerplay For The Season – 31 for 202, 15.3%, 26th in the league

Penalty Kill – 3 for 5, 60%
Penalty Kill For The Season – 29 for 208, 86.1%, 3rd in the league

Best Play of the Game: Rick Nash absolutely undressing Kevin Kline and keeping up his title of Pred Killer by striking with the Game Winning Goal 1:11 into the 3rd period.

Worst Play of the Game: Same play, different team. Kevin Klein lets Rick Nash not only get past him but then he makes the worst decision this blogger has ever seen him make by going BEHIND the net instead of driving Nash off the puck. Klein allows the worst goal I have ever seen him allow at 1:11 into the 3rd period.

Players (Good and Bad) of the Game:
The Good – The Preds: Jon Blum – On a night like this, if you aren’t noticed it pretty much means you are doing something right. Blum had 16 minutes on the ice, had 2 blocked shots, was tied for 3rd on the team in hits tonight with 2 and ended up the game with only a -1 rating. Past that, he was very smooth and sleek all night long and played like he was an NHL-caliber player.

The Good – The Jackets: Rick Nash – What else can you say about the Captain and commander for this Jackets team? He is to the Blue Jackets what Pekka Rinne is to the Predators, it’s backbone, and you can tell night in and night out what he means to this team. Nash had 2 goals tonight and pretty much had his way up and down the ice with any forward or defender from the Predators that got in his way. He’s one of the few players in the NHL that I think is a Nashville Predator in different colors based on the way he plays night in and night out. Just so much heart and talent there.

The Bad – The Preds: Tie between Klein and O’Brien. Every time the Predators have a bad game, the worst player of the night usually ends up being one of these two guys in most fans books. Klein, for whatever reason, just seems to be having trouble up and down the ice lately. Whether it’s due to the loss of Franky B or whether he needs to sit in the J.P. Dumont Honorary Time-Out Chair, Klein has seriously lost his touch, and the goal given up against Nash shows a side of Klein that you never want to see in any defender

As for O’Brien, Predators fans are starting to get a small taste of what Vancouver fans have seen over the past few years with O’Brien on their team. The defender that we were so used to seeing be a fairly good asset and holding a second/third pair spot on our blueline is starting to take poor penalties, costing this team goals, and needs to be corralled in quickly by Trotz & Co. or else we might as well just sit him and put in Belak on defense.

The Bad – The Jackets: Jared Boll – 8:48 on the ice, 7 penalty minutes, and got ran over by J.P. Dumont. You know it’s not your night if you get run over by J.P. Dumont (no offense to Dumont, but he’s not know for being a hitter). Boll also had a tiny scrap with Tootoo in the last few minutes in the third, however I would really call that bout a bit of a draw, as there was no decided victor in that fight. Not a really good night for him in my opinion.

My Preds #1 Star: To the chagrin of all the other fans in the NHL, Jordin Tootoo. Let me explain why. For a man who has missed 23 games and this being only his second game back since his absence into rehab, he had a terrific game. 10:51 on the ice, 2 shots on goal (a GLORIOUS chance at what would have been the only goal of the game at 15:10 of the 1st) and 7 penalty minutes. Now, why does that make him better than Jared Boll tonight? Because this is the type of game we were hoping to see from Jordin. Gritty play, scoring chances, and a fight. We saw exactly what we missed without Tootoo in the lineup and it’s nice to see that he hasn’t lost anything since being gone

Synopsis: As of writing this, the Predators stand in 6th place in the Western Conference for the night with Calgary and Dallas taking big losses tonight. However, while the other teams are helping out the Predators around the conference, the Predators can’t seem to help themselves. Nashville is sliding fast in the Western Conference going 1-2-1 in the past 4, with all 3 of those losses being winnable games.

When I say tonight was winnable, I mean it. The Preds looked shaky in the first, looked as though they were getting their mojo back in the second, however what came next was just shocking, absolutely shocking. Nashville comes out in the third period absolutely flat and gives up 4 goals. I’m not taking anything way from Columbus at all, because they clearly wanted to win this game more then Nashville did tonight, however games like this (when coming down to the final 20 minutes) are games that you just have to lock down, press forward, and win.

Columbus saved their season tonight with this win. If Columbus loses this game tonight, you would have definitely seen the domino’s start to fall by the time they were to come into Nashville this upcoming Sunday. However, in the process of saving their season and bringing in a newcomer to the playoff race, the Predators are slowly seeing their season slip away. 4 points separate 5th-12th with the Predators stuck right in the middle of the log jam with a losing streak building.

What’s going wrong with the Predators? I think the answer could be a mix of things, but it all revolves around one main thing, injuries:

This is the easiest culprit to blame it on. Injuries can decimate a team. Over the course of this season, the Predators have done fairly well even though having lost 233 man games so far to the dreaded injury bug, however there comes a point in time where things can catch up if players don’t heal quickly enough. That time has come for the Predators.

With Kostitsyn, Suter, O’Reilly, Lombardi, Goc, and Bouillon out, the team is having a hard time overcoming the talent they are missing and it’s really starting to show. No disrespect to the players filling in for the injured, but there are certain players who do well on certain lines and there is no question that the damaged line chemistry due to these injuries is part of the reason why it seems as though the Predators just can’t get anything going on the ice. What is Erat without his European counterparts? What is Shea without Ryan? You can’t expect team stalwarts of Sullivan/Legwand/Dumont to be consistent at all when they are flipping which line they are on multiple times every game. The continuous Line Change is killing the Predators.

Of course, it would help if the Predators would cash in on the Powerplay here in there, but they need to take baby steps first and get back injured players, then work on everything else.

However, could it be a little too late for the Preds? Is it time to panic?

This sounds stupid, but everything, including the division championship, is still in reach for the Predators. But before they can think about anything else that far in the future, they have to look in front of them. One game at a time decides everything for the Predators, and it needs to start with a win against the defending cup champs on Thursday. A loss here spells big trouble for the Predators, even with 22 games left in the season.

But, be happy Preds fans! March is right around the corner and it’s been a good month for Fans of the Fang over the past two seasons (going 18-7-5, including 10-4-3 at home). Pray that we enter March IN the top 8 and not out, as that will make things much easier for the team going down the stretch.

Next game is Thusday night against the Chicago Blackhawks in Nashville, another potential sell-out for this one

Thanks for reading!