This picture above says it all. Too many Predators looking around not paying attention and Phoenix scoring. It happened 5 times on the night and each time it was the Predators looking lost, confused and totally outmatched and out-coached by the Phoenix Coyotes. If Nashville was remotely favored by any of the crack team of experts to win this series, they are now back-pedaling faster than those who said this would be a goaltender dual (myself included).
Pekka Rinne received next to no help and the Phoenix Coyotes take a commanding lead 2-0 in the series on the back of a 5-3 win. It was scoring by committee once again that saw five different goal scorers for Phoenix, many of them the hard driving opportunistic goals that helped them defeat Chicago and a mirror image of how Nashville played Detroit. The real problem is that Phoenix continues to play this way while the Predators have lost any sense of urgency, puck-handling, chemistry or scruples (case in point David Legwand, but we’ll get to this later).
Many of the problems of the first game got corrected by the Nashville Predators. Nashville fixed the abysmal face-off problem except haven’t figured out how to win them in the offensive zone. Nashville also scored twice on the power play which would have been wicked awesome except they let the Coyotes score within 30 seconds and 3 minutes after each of these tallies. Pekka Rinne was allowing a ton of rebound chances and the scrums in front are what led directly to two of Phoenix’s goals. Another chance was simply created by Legwand (0 points and a -3 on the night BTW) who felt the need to grab the puck out of the air behind the net and casually throw it out in front of the goal. Vrbata was nice enough to send it to the back of the net for the third Phoenix goal. The back-breaker was Taylor Pyatt scoring 30 seconds after Nashville made it a one goal game. Once again a juicy rebound came out and not one Predator was looking for the trailer and Pyatt sent it home for the eventual game-winner.
Full marks go to Phoenix who had an answer for everything Nashville did. The Coyotes put on a clinic of sticks in the lane, keeping shots to the outside and clogging the slot. They also did a masterful job with their blind passes that actually found another Coyote stick rather than a turnover like the Predators have been apt to do for the first two games. I text Kris at the 4-2 mark of the game and said “Phoenix may be the most opportunistic team I’ve ever seen” and when it comes to scoring chances, the Phoenix Coyotes capitalize more often than not regardless of the SOG totals.
With the expectation of most Nashville fans that this game was in the bag and that the Predators would come out playing with a chip on their shoulders now have to shuffle into Bridgestone Arena and hope that the crowd at 501 Broadway can somehow breathe new life into a team desperate for a win. One can expect that the Nashville Predators will not receive a day off from practice in preparation for Wednesday night’s puck drop. Keep checking The Predatorial for all Predators news on and off the ice and the preview of Game 3 Wednesday morning.
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