Hey there people, welcome back to another game recap with me, Eamon. Did ya miss me? Probably not, but I’ll say you did anyway. The Preds had a fun one against Chicago tonight and ultimately came away with a win. How’d they manage that, who were the heroes, and why was the game dramatic? Read on to find out.
The Nashville Predators came out looking solid both ways, but a phantom slashing call on Mark Borowiecki quickly halted whatever momentum they’d built. After about a minute of puck chasing and poor decision making by the penalty kill, we had a Dylan Strome slam dunk and a 1-0 Chicago lead. This team has a lot to work out, but the penalty kill is the most unacceptable area of their failures lately. If you want an aggressive PK, have that, but from all angles the design of the penalty kill was to be highly conservative and provide little challenge; the “aggressive” plays we saw were guys breaking formation without coordination, causing the eventual breakdown that lead to a goal.
The Preds managed to get most of the overall shot attempts and chances in the period, but the team as a whole looked snakebitten; Chicago also had a few very dangerous chances the other way, but only one registered as high danger. The standouts of the period were undoubtedly Mathieu Olivier and Yakov Trenin, both of whom had some great defensive plays and offensive zone cycles. Trenin in particular came open for a breakaway and forced multiple Blackhawks turnovers; keep those two on the fourth line until they’re not clicking.
Erik Haula had a chance to bury one but failed to, continuing his inauspicious start in Nashville; the free agent signing only had one point in five games heading into tonight and has the team’s second-worst xGF% and worst xGA/60 at 5v5. This raises a big question: when are we going to see him have some consequences for poor play?
If only there was a young, left shot Finn with an abundance of shooting talent available on some sort of “taxi squad” that the nashville predators could have access to— ryan (@AngryPredsFan) January 27, 2021
Nashville again looked good to start the period, racking up shots and even having a decent power play attempt early on. Matt Duchene had a shot that almost went past Malcolm Subban, but yet again #95 looked cursed and the puck sat just outside the goal line. Mikael Granlund continued a growing trend by playing like his hair was on fire; there’s a reason the Finn leads the team in xGF% at 5v5. The Predators looked much crisper across the board with their passing, leading to a number of chances that again wouldn’t find the twine (beginning to sense a trend here).
Nashville finally tied things up when aforementioned young stud Yakov Trenin buried this shot.
The Preds continued to move the puck with better vision and touch than in any game they’ve played this year, looking more like they should against a weak Chicago Blackhawks team. Of course, this would not last; an atrocious pass telegraphed by Matt Duchene led to a Mattias Janmark breakaway goal. We have fun here, folks. The period concluded with a Nashville power play that was cut short by a Luke Kunin hook. The Predators managed to kill off the shortened penalty and went into the break down 2-1 despite largely controlling play.
The story remained the same in the second, with the Preds peppering Malcolm Subban but failing to get anything through. Late in the period it looked like this would be another demoralizing, “maybe they’ll be better in the next game” outcome. Suddenly, the hockey gods decided to reward a certain player for his excellent game. Mikael Granlund took the chance and ran with it.
Nashville upped the pressure even further with a power play but couldn’t manage to end the game in regulation. Overtime it is.
I’ll spare you the details and cut to the chase: this Roman Josi game-winner for his first of the year was spectacular.
Ridiculous game-winner from Josi pic.twitter.com/B4cNWW6m5P— FOX Sports Tennessee (@PredsOnFSTN) January 27, 2021
That’s the kind of dynamic play I’ve been needing to see from the captain, and I hope that helps wake up the team as a whole. Nashville played a good game tonight and very well could have won 2-0, but the important part is that they overcame some adversity and got the two points.
Three Big Things
- Mikael Granlund is playing incredibly, and if that continues this team has a whole new dimension. He’s been one of the three best offensive players ever since he returned against Dallas and his defense has been exceptional too. Granlund makes the second power play unit a whole lot better, and the same goes for the second line.
- Ryan Ellis looked the best he has all year, making a number of key blocks and helping drive offense. His puck support and defense look all-NHL again and that’s exciting.
- Erik Haula looks lost in a Nashville uniform, but he and Granlund flashed some chemistry together on #64’s goal. Keep an eye on that over the next few games.
It always feels good to beat the Blackhawks, and tonight was no different. Enjoy, y’all. Go Preds.