Another day, another embarrassing Nashville Predators loss. They face potential elimination by the Dallas Stars tomorrow. We’re at least as tired of saying it as you probably are of reading it, and we wish we had more good and less bad and ugly to talk about.
Rachel: Pekka Rinne is very good at tending goal. He’s good at making ridiculously wild saves that none of us could even think about without having to be hospitalized.
Kate: Also he has yet to go Tuukka Rask and attempt to stab the entire rest of the team with his skate blade, which is commendable!
Rachel: Rocco Grimaldi and his sticks of many names.
Kate: We need about eleven more Rocco Grimaldis. He’s been the best part of every game he’s played in—well, he and Rinne.
Rachel: Ryan Johansen’s wrist shot. Nashville’s second goal was perfect hockey. They possessed the puck into the zone, had coverage to retrieve the puck behind Ben Bishop, got bodies to the net, and capitalized.
More on the zone entry: It’s all about possessing the puck over the blue line into the zone. They won’t have any luck trying to dump and chase...not against this Dallas team.
Kate: One of the things I remember discussing at the time of the Kevin Fiala trade was that Fiala was extremely strong in transition, while Mikael Granlund was stronger within the zone. I don’t have zone entry stats, but I think part of the reason that Roman Josi has been getting production this series (and Ryan Ellis has been tagging along for the ride) is those zone entries with possession.
Also, the game started well. Then it...did not continue well. Let’s get on to the bad.
Rachel: There’s no apparent answer for Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov, and Tyler Seguin.
Kate: Can I suggest playing some defense? I’d like to suggest playing some defense. Filip Forsberg had a couple of atrocious turnovers; P.K. Subban had another; I don’t know what to call what Ellis and Josi were doing on the Stars’ third goal but they both looked like someone had cut their strings. Sorry. Getting ahead of myself here. We’ll get back to this.
Rachel: The Nashville top-four defenders look just average. Roman Josi did pick up two assists today, but there hasn’t been anything to “wow” us coming from the Big 4.
Kate: Josi’s production has been good—he leads the team in points and is the only player other than Grimaldi to have more than one goal—but he and Ellis have been really bad defensively. I don’t want to downplay that production too much, because nobody else is doing it, but it’s definitely high-risk. Ellis has been bad. Mattias Ekholm’s lack of discipline is the only thing worth talking about for him this series. Subban has been the best of the top four but even he hasn’t consistently “wow”ed me.
Speaking of bad: the Preds’ entire top six (Johansen, Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson; Kyle Turris, Craig Smith, and Granlund) have combined for as many goals all series as Grimaldi and Josi. Five both ways. P.K. Subban has also scored one goal, and that’s it. Regression has come for Arvidsson with a vengeance, because regression hits everyone except the Penguins, but I wish it had waited a little longer, or that anyone else was stepping in to pick up for him.
Rachel: Austin Watson had a team low 7:30 TOI tonight. He was a liability and got to take a seat for a while.
Rachel: Turnovers. Please stop.
Kate: They’ve got to have better puck management.
Rachel: Giveaways are extremely often. Nearly every possession, it seems. (19 giveaways by Nashville for the Stars’ 8).
Kate: “Giveaways” is such a subjective stat (it’s not scored consistently and it’s way way off the number of actual changes of possession) but I’d believe it was at least that bad. The failed zone exits, the no-look drop passes to center ice, the overall treatment of the puck like it’s contagious...awful, and directly responsible for most of the Stars’ goals tonight.
The worst of it was that those were all unforced errors. The Preds aren’t even turning the puck over under pressure. They’re just turning it over because the alternative is playing it.
Rachel: No-effort plays are just not okay with me.
Kate: A lack of good in-game adjustments are not okay with me. The Stars are adapting during games, and the Preds aren’t. The only changes Laviolette is making mid-game are...not likely to result in winning.
Rachel: Why would you break up the JoFA line? Line shuffling is helping NOTHING at this point.
Rachel: Mattias Ekholm’s repeated trips to the penalty box. He’s had six minors this series. Six.
Kate: I think you could make a pretty good argument that Ekholm came close to singlehandedly losing them Game 4 with the penalties. I don’t know if they would have won anyway, but the Stars scored their first goal while he was in the box, their second on the power play when Forsberg mishandled the puck the shift after the Preds gave up that goal, and the fourth while Ekholm was back in the box.
Rachel: I realize all my “ugly” comments are short and sweet, but it feels like these points have been made over and over again and I feel like I’m beating a dead horse.
Kate: We’ve been making some of these complaints since last year. I don’t know how to make them fresh and new at this point.
Happy Sunday, everyone. See you tomorrow.