Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Predators in Desperate Need of a Win Tonight

The Nashville Predators return to action tonight at the Sommet Center against the Colorado Avalanche. The Predators are in dire need of a victory as they have found several creative ways to lose the last four games. The Preds now stand with a 17-18-3 record which is the first time they have been below the .500 mark since early November.

The Predators are 3-8-1 in their last 12 games and have only scored 17 goals in their last 11 outings, six of which were in two games. In the 11 year history of the Predators they have not undergone a scoring drought of this magnitude. Their lack of production has been reflected in their free fall from seventh to fourteenth place in the tightly bunched Western Conference. Entering Monday’s action the Predators had 37 points and were four points behind eight place Minnesota who currently is hanging on to the last playoff spot.

It has been obvious that the Predators have been short one or two quality scorers at the forward position since preseason camp. Shea Weber’s break-out year as a standout defenseman somewhat masked the lack of scoring early in the year but his scoring has also fallen off during the recent slide.

The most stunning news to come out of the Predators camp recently was the announcement Monday that Steve Sullivan may be able to suit up as early as this weekend. Sullivan has not played in almost two years and has undergone two separate back surgeries for the same degenerative back condition. Prior to being sidelined Sully was the most consistent Predator scorer in the teams history averaging more than a point a game for the three years that he played in Nashville. I have said for over a year that he will never play another NHL game. I really like Sully so I hope that I wrong.

Aside from the potential return of Steve Sullivan, a possible source of immediate offensive help would be to recall Rookie Ryan Jones from Milwaukee. Jones stared the year in Nashville playing 16 games, scoring three goals and picking up three assists. In Milwaukee, Jones has played 20 games and produced at a point a game clip. Jones's game is similar to that of Detroit's Thomas Holmstrom placing himself in front of the net, causing problems for the goalie, and trying to punch rebounds into the net.

Another option would be to bring up Mike Santorelli who was named the AHL player of the month for December. Santorelli, who has never played at the NHL level, led the Admirals to a 12-2 mark for the month scoring eight goals and adding 15 assists. While both players are doing well on the AHL level, neither appears to bring enough experience to the table to rescue the Predators from their tenuous position.

Predator fans and players alike have been frustrated with the teams recent slide. The Predators have reached the point that without a complete turn around in the next few games anything that they are able to accomplish later may be too little too late.

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

Added Note: The Predators did indeed call up Ryan Jones today and he should be available for tonight's game. No word was given on any other moves. Since they have only been carrying 22 on the roster, they are not obligated to clear a roster spot at this time.

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