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Calling for Back-up: The Predators Unlikely Nemesis


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(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

One of the biggest foes faced by the Predators this season has not been an offensive juggernaut or a defensive stalwart. The PP is firing on all cylinders for the Predators and although it has been a rough stretch for Pekka Rinne and the defense of the Nashville Predators over the last 8 games, throughout the season the number one Predator-killer has been back-up goal tending.

On Tuesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes, the Predators played a solid game aside from the second period. In the third period, however, a key moment occurred when the Predators were driving into the zone and a 3 on 2 was forming with Legwand as the trailer. When the shot was taken and the huge rebound was given up by LaBarbera, Legwand was left all alone in the slot to fire home the puck in what many in attendance thought was an open net opportunity. Lo and behold, Jason LaBarbera does his impersonation of Superman and flies over to rob Legwand of what would have been the go-ahead goal.

Next thing you know, Phoenix is driving back the other way and score to make it 2-1 in favor of the Coyotes.

The Coyotes would go on to win the game 3-2 and tally another victory for Jason LaBarbera. That makes for two on the year for LaBarbera against the Predators…and yes…the only two wins of the year for him.

Out of the 27 games played this season, the Predators have a record of 12-11-4. If you count all losses, whether the Predators get a point or not for lasting til overtime, the Predators have a combined 15 losses. 8 of those losses have come at the hands of a back-up goaltender. Here’s the list:

Oct. 13 – LaBarbera – L

Oct. 15 – Hedberg – OTL

Nov. 8 – Bernier – L

Nov. 12 – Budaj – OTL

Nov. 19 – Sanford – OTL

Nov. 22 – Dubnyk – L

Nov. 23 – Harding – L

Dec. 6 – LaBarbera – L

It may be the lack of play from the back-ups that is the culprit. Maybe the coaching staff of the Predators can’t scout enough due to unfamiliarity with the opposing teams’ #2 goalie. Whatever the case, the Predators are suffering at the hands of the enemy’s relief backstopper. To make matter worse, the Predators can’t out-chance the competition coming off back-to-back games.

The Predators have had two opportunities in the first of December where they are playing a team that saw action the night before. Both times resulted in a loss: Phoenix on Tuesday and Buffalo on Saturday. This also happened in November against Edmonton and L.A.; both teams coming off a game the night before and both resulting in a Predators loss.

The onus is on the coaching staff to right the ship and get the Predators to come out with a jump and pour on the shots and play a full 60 minute game. They can’t let another :09 second goal happen again or any early lead for that matter, especially from a team that played 60+ minutes the night before.