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Predators 4, Red Wings 1: Barry Trotz, Master Motivator?

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Tonight's 4-1 win in Detroit, following a Barry Trotz tirade in the press, will quite naturally be spun as a response by some key players like Martin Erat and David Legwand to a harsh public tongue-lashing. Since Erat and Legwand were the first two players to score, the dots are right there for observers to connect: Trotz criticizes players, they go out and produce immediately. Jeez, if Coach just rode them harder, or if the guys only tried this hard all the time, maybe they'd be worth all that money, right? Right?

This whole episode reminds me of an excellent book (The Drunkard's Walk) I read about a year ago. In it, a fighter pilot instructor discussed how he had to constantly be hard on his students to get the best results:

I've often praised people warmly for beautifully executed maneuvers, and the next time they always do worse," the flight instructor said. "And I've screamed at people for badly executed maneuvers, and by and large the next time they improve. Don't tell me that reward works and punishment doesn't work. My experience contradicts it."

The reality of the situation? Complex processes have their ups and downs, and we shouldn't be surprised when reaction to extreme results at one end of the spectrum are followed by moves back towards the norm. Goal scoring comes along at a (mostly) random pace, dictated in large part by the overall quantity of shots being taken. A 4-0 disappointment against Edmonton featuring 37 shots on net is followed by tonight in Detroit, with the Preds scoring four times on 30 shots.

This was fun (some were saying it was the first multi-goal win margin for the Preds ever in Detroit?), but the imperative is to keep those Shots For & Against totals tipped in the right direction, or rely on superior goaltending to make up the difference. The latter has been the story of the Preds' season so far, and it made the difference again tonight as Pekka Rinne made 34 stops to rebound from his first poor outing since December.

Follow after the jump for the video highlights, more reaction, and of course the advanced even-strength stats...

The Colorado Avalanche visit Nashville on Saturday, possibly with Peter Forsberg (if he can get visa issues worked out). Save yourself some cash and take the OTF Discount on Nashville Predators tickets for this, or any other home game.

Let's start with the video, and your Predators vs Red Wings boxscore:

  • That was a pretty opening goal for the EKG line, with Sergei Kostitsyn turning the puck around at center ice, Marcel Goc driving into the zone, and setting up Martin Erat for a wide-open wrister. Good things happen when you shoot, Marty...
  • David Legwand's goal to extend the lead to 2-0 featured some wonderful work in front by Patric Hornqvist, who created havoc on several occasions in the offensive end. Later on in the game he picked off a Nick Lidstrom clearing pass and was able to walk into the slot for a dangerous shot.
  • To their credit, the Preds kept their foot on the gas in the 2nd period, with two more goals coming off hard work around the net. Colin Wilson benefited from solid forechecking by Jerred Smithson and Joel Ward, then SK74 capitalized on the power play after a Shea Weber blast from the point.
  • The penalty killers also held down the fort in what was the key battle coming into this game. The Red Wings had their chances to get back into the game, but good work shorthanded (especially with key PK men Suter & Legwand in the box) made the difference.
  • A big factor in tonight's game were the 20 Blocked Shots for Nashville. While the Shots on Goal were only 35-30 for Detroit, the Total Shots were more lopsided, at 77-50 in favor of the Red Wings. Simply put, the Preds didn't dominate the flow of this game as much as the scoreboard might indicate, but they buried the chances they did get.
  • The big concern post-game is the condition of Marcel Goc, who left late in the 1st period. Barry Trotz told Josh Cooper afterwards that it was a "body strain" (whatever that means) and that he hopes Goc won't miss any time.

And for your advanced even-strength stats, I don't see much evidence of the tongue-lashing theory at work here...

Even Strength Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
David Legwand C 18:16 2 2 0 0 9 10 -1 16 24 -8
Sergei Kostitsyn L 15:30 2 1 0 0 11 6 +5 17 19 -2
Patric Hornqvist R 14:46 4 0 1 1 11 10 +1 17 17 0
Jerred Smithson R 14:24 1 0 0 1 8 9 -1 10 19 -9
Steve Sullivan L 14:20 1 0 0 0 7 8 -1 12 18 -6
Martin Erat R 14:06 2 0 1 2 8 6 +2 14 17 -3
Joel Ward R 14:01 0 0 1 1 5 9 -4 8 20 -12
Nick Spaling C 13:51 2 1 0 0 6 8 -2 14 16 -2
Colin Wilson C 13:35 4 2 0 0 6 11 -5 10 18 -8
J.P. Dumont R 8:18 1 1 0 0 2 4 -2 6 9 -3
Matt Halischuk R 7:41 0 2 0 0 2 4 -2 6 8 -2
Marcel Goc C 5:01 0 0 0 0 3 2 +1 5 4 +1
Ryan Suter D 20:38 2 0 0 2 14 14 0 21 23 -2
Kevin Klein D 19:14 1 0 0 3 6 9 -3 10 26 -16
Shea Weber D 18:50 1 0 4 0 14 14 0 21 21 0
Alexander Sulzer D 17:34 0 1 1 2 4 10 -6 8 27 -19
Cody Franson D 13:44 1 0 0 1 6 6 0 13 15 -2
Shane O`Brien D 13:01 2 0 1 3 8 5 +3 17 14 +3