The Nashville Predators played the Colorado Avalanche in a COVID-19 ridden game. With AHL players aplenty and all of the Preds’ coaching staff missing, this was certainly an interesting contest. What happened, who stood out, and why did this game matter? All of this and more tomorrow.
What went right?
Almost everything, outside of allowing a few goals. The Predators controlled the pace of this game the entire way until midway through the third period, and even after a brief onslaught of scoring chances and a second Colorado goal, they managed to find an insurance marker to keep victory at arm’s length from the visitors.
Colorado, even with a multitude of players missing, is still a team with plenty of dangerous weaponry at its disposal. Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and even Alex Newhook are skilled enough to make any roster pay at some point, with rare exceptions. That the Predators successfully held them to the edges of the ice (a common theme in recent wins) is indicative of the discipline of this group, even under a different set of coaches and with a heavy dose of minor league players in the lineup.
The scoring opened with a Filip Forsberg shot from the point that found its way past some traffic to tickle the twine. Credit to Carrier for starting this play via maintaining possession in a puck battle, then finding the outlet.
The second tally came on the power play, where an accurate bumper pass by Colton Sissons and a wonderful cut to the net by Jeannot resulted in a picture-perfect goal. Look at No. 84, slicing through defenders to find his spot like a hot knife through butter.
We really like this guy, Jeannot?! pic.twitter.com/AOkY8ouLR9— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) December 17, 2021
Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good, but in the case of Filip Forsberg’s second goal of the game it was a bit of both. The puck bounced off of an Avalanche skater, but The Prince also found his way into the spot in the first place via some solid offensive anticipation.
Even as Colorado drew back into things, the captain had no trouble keeping things from getting too interesting, bringing the lead back to two with a snipe from out high.
Pinpoint accuracy from Roman Josi pic.twitter.com/Rf6gPgFYbs— Bally Sports: Preds (@PredsOnBally) December 17, 2021
Mattias Ekholm buried the empty netter from a distance (he must be half-decent at pool, given the bounces it took), and that was all she wrote. Not too shabby for a team missing eight players and, it cannot be stressed enough, the entire coaching staff.
What went wrong?
The Avs got their goals, as a team that skilled is apt to do, but the more annoying thing was that a team with only 16 skaters hung with the Preds for stretches of this game. Specifically the beginning of the third period was less than ideal; Colorado pressured hard and might have gotten back in the game, were it not for the heroics of Juuse Saros.
Mikko Rantanen found the first goal for Colorado to make it 2-1 on a bit of a lucky bounce. Not much to complain about there.
Val Nichushkin tapped in one of the more effortless tic-tac-goals we’ve seen this year, cutting the Nashville lead to one. Luckily, Nashville woke up in time to put things out of reach. Not a complete effort by the Boys in Gold by any means, but given the situation it’s hard to find much issue.
Three Big Things
- Tommy Novak played well tonight and should have been rewarded. He had some nice passes and created a glorious chance in the slot that Eeli Tolvanen (I believe that’s right, could be wrong) just couldn’t finish on. He might get a longer look in a depth role even after some of the Preds’ forward corps comes back off of the COVID reserve.
- Alex Carrier visually appeared to be the best player on the ice for the Preds, and the numbers agreed. The young defender led the team in xGF% and CF% at even strength, orchestrated some stellar breakouts, and played great positionally in his own zone, too. He’s the real deal.
- Stay safe out there, y’all. Not all of us have access to the kind of care that professional athletes do, and with this new variant running rampant everybody should be taking care to not get sick. Be smart and careful.
Post Game Tunes
An all-time great song to listen to after a win.
As always, good night, good hockey, and go Predators.