Thursday, January 28, 2010

Are The "Hockey Gods" Catching Up with the Predators?

Since the six game losing streak at the beginning of the season, the Predators have lost back to back games once and had a three game losing streak once. The current four game losing streak is a season high for the Preds when you exclude the slow start streak.

With a game in Detroit tomorrow and a trap game at home Saturday against Atlanta (in the Black and Blues) looming as tough games, the Predators suddenly have their work cut out for them.

Unlike the early season streak, and the three game December streak, the Predators have not played horribly. They have simply gotten beat by the other team. They could have won any of the four games with a break or two along the way.

For months, I have pointed to the upside that the Preds would have "when" they got their power play going, the penalty kill on track, and Pekka played like he did last year. I never discussed the down side of what would happen when they continued to play poorly on special teams and Pekka didn't shape up.

The "hockey gods" appear to have gone other direction and have not shown favor on them in the last four games. They tend to be more punishing when teams don't do the little things like fight for the puck, chase rebounds, and crash the net.

What we are currently seeing is what happens when a team plays on the ice the way their statistics look on paper. When you have the 29th best power play and the 26th best penalty kill, you won't win many close games against quality opposition over the long haul especially when you aren't putting the puck in the net, five on five.

The Predators have scored nine goals in their last five games which is not as bad as the six goals in six games in the early season losing streak but it is very similar to the six goals in three games during the December three game losing streak.

The rotation in goal has led to a lot of mediocre play and no real rhythm in net for either Dan Ellis or Pekka Rinne. Barry Trotz has given Pekka back to back starts twice and he had to be pulled in one game and gave up three goals on seventeen shots in the other.

The Predators have reached a fork in the road. Either they will pick up their play and return to the ways that we saw earlier this season or they will continue to be mediocre and slowly fade down past the eighth slot in the standings and out of a playoff position.

I really don't expect a lot of movement at the trade deadline so the turn-around is going to have to come from the players that they have in Nashville and in Milwaukee.

Barry Trotz commented that when the team got close to being healthy with the return of Jerrod Smithson, Jordin Tootoo and Jason Arnott they started losing games. I don't think that is a complete coincidence.

While some of the younger guys from Milwaukee do make occasional rookie mistakes, they play like their job in the NHL is on the line every night, and it is. We need to see that same fight for life from all twenty players that the Preds put on the ice on any given night.

That is what "Predator hockey" is all about and that is not what we have seen in the last four games. They can't afford to have any "passengers" as Trotz likes to say. Hopefully, the four game streak is enough of a wake up call and we will see the old Preds back on the ice tomorrow night playing like they are fighting for their lives.

In Pred Nation...

Bryan Mullen has some quotes from the current losing streak and indicates that the team is not yet to the panic stage. As stated above, the team is at a crossroads and need to reel in the streak in Detroit tomorrow.

Forechecker asks "Are the Preds who we thought they were?" in a post reflecting back on the Preds current issues. He also has an interview with Mike Santos from the Thom Abraham show.

Jeremy Gover has an article about Patric Hornqvist and speculates that he could be the Pred's all time single season goal leader.

The Predators signed Marcel Goc to a one-year extension yesterday. Bryan Mullen has comments about the signing from David Poile. Jim Diamond has a perspective on the new contract. Big Kev has comments about the signing.

Admirals Short Shifts has speculation about the whereabouts of Alexander Sulzer who appears to be in no man's land or involved in some type of trade. Here was their original recall article.

The Olympic Hockey Blog has a profile of Shea Weber.

Rachel at What The Puck discusses the Hockey Fights Cancer night on Saturday.

From comes a #2 night which sounds odd. Everyone in attendance will receive a #2 pencil. Packers kicker Mason Crosby will sign autographs.

Around the NHL...

Matt Reitz has his State of the Union in hockey and covers a wide range of issues facing the NHL this year.

Puck Report commemorates the beginning of the longest road trip in NHL history by the Vanouver Canucks.

Darren Dreger has a list of ten players that will move at the deadline. Ethan Moreau would be a great pick up for the Preds with only a $1.75 million salary for next season. While not a big point producer, he could provide leadership and was last year's winner of the King Clancy Trophy for community involvement and leadership on and off the ice.

Scotty Wazz has a few thoughts on the whole Carey Price-Andrei Markov "heart" situation. If a tenth of all this is true, it is an untenable situation in Montreal.

The dispute between the CBC and the Vancouver Canucks over the Alex Burrows-Stephane Auger matter has been resolved but no one is saying much about in in Vancouver.

Rob Higgins has his weekly fantasy update at the Toronto Sun.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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