Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Predators Hangover Continues in Loss to Avalanche

New Year’s Day is traditionally known as a big day for hangovers from folks having too much to drink but the Nashville Predators got an early start this year. If you look at the history of the franchise, many times after big emotional wins over arch rival Detroit, the Predators have gone flat for a game or two. This time the beneficiaries have been Edmonton on Sunday and Colorado on Monday when they defeated the Predators 5-1 at the Pepsi Center.

The Predators fell behind 2-0 on back to back goals by Cody McLeod and were down and out of the game 4-0 before Jason Arnott scored the Pred's lone goal halfway through the second period. The final Av's goal by John Michael Lyles at the start of the third was merely a little more icing on the cake for a game that had long since been decided.

For the second night in a row, a combination of marginal defensive play in the Predators zone, less than average goaltending and a couple of bad bounces led to a lopsided defeat. Pekka Rinne allowed 5 goals on 21 shots in a game where the Preds actually out shot the Avs 26-21. However, many of the Predators shots were shots “in name only” and not true scoring chances. At least two, if not three of the Avs goals were ones that Rinne would have stopped on an average night.

My favorite statistic, the “misery index” (goals scored per game) dropped to 1.44 goals per game as for the last 9 games as they have scored 13 goals during that stretch, six of which came in two games. With the holiday no movement period over, it is very likely that the Predators will return Antti Philstrom to Milwaukee and bring up Ryan Jones who has 17 points in the 17 games he has played on the AHL level. He is the most likely addition from within the organization to add a little punch to the anemic scoring that the Preds have had of late.

The video highlight of the game that will be shown numerous times on highlight shows for years to come occurred during the second period when Jordan Tootoo lined up Cody McLeod near the board in front of the Avalance bench and missed. Since he didn’t hit his intended target he flew over the boards and landed in the floor of the Colorado bench. As he returned to the ice he drew a double minor from Darcy Tucker who retaliated for Tootoo’s antics.

Jordan's Big Miss

The Predators return home for a New Years Night match with the Vancouver Canucks. They play their next five games on home ice where they have played much better so far this year (10-4-1 at home vs. 7-12-2 on the road including 5 straight road losses). The schedule is much more home friendly in January and February so it’s time for the Predators to make their move.

Throw a blanket over them… Putting a winning streak together will be critical for the Predators at this time to keep their playoff hopes alive. Monday’s loss dropped the Preds into a tie for ninth with 37 points. The entire lower half of the Western Conference is tightly bunched with only four points separating seventh (39 points) and fourteenth (35 points) so the Preds really need a strong home stand to move out of the current log jam.

Missing man returns… After sitting out 10 games, Ville Koistinen returned to action in place of Kevin Klein who drew the ire of Coach Barry Trotz with a couple of pointless turnovers the night before in the Preds loss to the Oilers. Ville was -1 in 18:51 minutes of play, getting two shots on goal and picking up a holding penalty for the Preds first penalty of the game at the end of the first period.

Picard wins again for Canada in World Juniors… Pred prospect Chet Picard started his second straight game in goal for Team Canada at the world Juniors stopping 12 of 13 shots against Germany in Canada’s 5-1 win on Monday night. It is unclear if Picard will start on New Years Eve in Canada’s final preliminary round game against the USA squad which should be a game for first place in the pool. The USA squad which includes Pred prospects Jonathon Blum and Colin Wilson plays the hapless Kazakhstan team on Tuesday. Predator fans should mark their calendar for the 6:30 Wednesday USA-Canada match up which will be carried on the NHL Network, XM 204, and at several sites on the internet. It should be a good opportunity to see three future Predators playing on the world stage.

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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