The Predators definitely outworked the Hawks for a much-needed home win on Saturday, yet it's still hard to get excited......
Pekka seems to be having trouble stopping shots to his glove side. It appeared he had a clear view of all three Chicago goals and just didn't react quickly enough. That said, after the third goal he was tremendous, especially when the Hawks were on the 5 on 3. Got a lot of help from his defense too. The pk was great. Chicago came in with the league's #3 power play and went 0-4.
Marcel Goc should be our 2nd line center. Following up his stellar play against the Blues on Thursday, his pass to Shane O'Brien for the Predators' first goal was absolutely gorgeous. I like the idea of dropping a d-man down low and hard toward the net from time to time as long as we have the proper coverage at the blue line. Shane and the net were wide open as Marty Turco could not get over to cover. The Phoenix Coyotes did the same thing earlier this month against the Preds and Ed Jovonovski scored his first three goals of the year.
Likewise, Jack Skille scored his first two goals of the year for Chicago. This is not a pattern we want to see continue.
Same old Martin Erat. He continues to skate in circles with the puck in the offensive end, neither passing nor shooting, until the defense relieves him of it. Arguably the most overpaid player on the team.
Yes, we finally scored a power play goal on a shot by Shea Weber from the perimeter. Another goal was scored by Cody Franson, also on a shot from the perimeter. In this game they went in, but if these very low percentage shots are what the Predators are going to depend on for scoring they will continue to struggle offensively unless they have someone at the net. And when they're not blasting away from the blue line they seem to spend an inordinate amount of time lollygagging around with the puck until they lose it without taking a shot. This is a big reason why the Predators have a hard time on the power play and scoring in general. One would think they see this on tape as they prepare for each game, yet it continues. Why?
For all the pre-season talk of Sergei Kostitsyn's offensive abilities they sure weren't evident on his breakaway. He missed the net entirely. Steve Sullivan's shootout attempt wasn't much better. Not counting shootouts, I can recall only two breakaways that have been converted this season, and we've had quite a few chances.
There were a couple of occasions when the Predators had a player controlling the puck directly behind Turco. The Hawks stationed a man on each side of the net thereby preventing a pass toward the front of the net. I like the concept.
A lot has been made about Ryan Suter's injury and the correlation of his absence to the team's recent poor performance. Granted, he is very important to the club and it's great to have him back. But he is only one player and not a savior. Keep in mind he did not play against the Blues on Thursday and he was not on the ice for any of the goals the Predators scored on Saturday. Injuries occur to good players on all teams and they should be kept in perspective.
Hockey is the most difficult of all team sports to play and requires the most effort. The travel adds to the difficulty. The team had to be road weary after a 6 game stretch and now it's right back to the road for 4 more. In fact, the schedule is top-heavy with road games until the end of January. Only 20 of the first 50 games this season are at home. If the Preds can manage to stay in or near the top 8 until February they are looking at a boatload of home games to close out the season. The team is not without talent. But talent only gives you a chance. Play hard, play smart, and SHOOT THE PUCK!