Power Play: Nashville showing its true colors
It's a hard pill to swallow, but at some point the realization hits of what a team is. After 52 games, it's difficult to believe that the Predators are anything outside the ordinary this season.
You don't see many goals like the one the Predators allowed to the Flyers late in the first period. In fact, I can't remember the last time that actually happened to Nashville involving its blue line.
As Flyers winger Michael Raffl was trying to keep himself onside with Matt Read breaking into the zone, Raffl collided with Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis who subsequently ran into Barret Jackman and left Read to break in alone on Rinne.
The result? A 1-0 lead for Philadelphia.
"It's a different persons view and a different persons opinion," said Ellis. "If you look at the play, my opinion was [it was a penalty]. When do we ever give up a breakaway like that? It's like I said, it's someones opinion and we didn't get the call, but it's no excuse."
Things wouldn't get any better from there in the first, as Jackman was again riding the struggle bus less than two minutes later. Going in to land a big hit, Jackman ended up out of position on the side boards with the puck still in the zone. Flyers forward Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn teamed up for a two-on-one and easily put it behind Rinne to make it 2-0 Flyers.
Bad defense is bad and it hurt Nashville tonight. That's not something said very often about the Predators.
What in the world happened to the power play?
A legitimate question! My goodness, you would have thought that Nashville forgot how to play during man advantages over the last two games. 10 cumulative chances against both St. Louis and Philadelphia this week, so far, and only one goal to show for it.
It's not that they haven't scored, either. It's that their efforts on the power play have been legitimately horrible. They've had one, maybe two, opportunities where they've produced decent chances on net, but were just unable to score.
Against a third-ranked Blues penalty kill on Tuesday, it's understandable when three quality power play chances come up empty-handed. However, when six of seven man-advantages against one of the worst penalty kills in the league come up fruitless?
You have to shake things up at that point. More so than Peter Laviolette has been doing with the lines every single game.
What can be done? Besides putting in players who don't normally get power play time, maybe focus your efforts into putting the puck towards the net and spending less time circulating it.
Just a thought. Shea Weber can't muscle the puck to the back of the net on every power play.
Inconsistency all around
A perfect four-game road trip. Four goals allowed in four games. That's exactly what Nashville needed.
Add in a lengthy All-Star break and bring the Predators back home for 18 of their last 32 games. Two into the final stretch and Nashville is back to doing some of the same things that really made us wonder if this team was a fluke last season or not.
And here we are again. Asking the same questions we did in January. In December. In November.
Here's the conclusion: Nashville is a bad team that can't consistently find the back of the net, regardless of how many shots they've put on opposing goaltender, and suffering from mediocre goaltending, at best.
Right now, this is a cold, hard fact. It hurts to say, too, because they have the lineup to be one of the most dynamic teams in franchise history. So what in the world is holding these guys back?
Do you pin it on Rinne? While he's probably had the worst season of his career, it's not all on him. Defensively, Nashville has left him hung out to dry on more than one occasion -- including in the last two games (yes, against St. Louis too. Remember the Brouwer goal?).
With that said, do you then pin it on the defense? I don't think you can do that either. The Predators blue line, even without Seth Jones, can't be matched talent-wise across the league. Plus, they are one of the highest-scoring defense corps in the entire league. That has to count for something.
What about the offense? Do you put the spotlight on them? They haven't scored the most goals in the league, but they're not on the level of teams like the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs or even the Anaheim Ducks.
How about coaching and management? Time to blame them? I'm not sure what more you could ask from Poile, Laviolette and the entire group. My biggest complaint is line chemistry, which Laviolette seems to alter every other shift during games -- especially when things aren't going right.
What say you? What do you think is the major malfunction? I don't have the solution, I can only tell you what I see.
Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers - Simmonds was on another planet tonight. Both his goals were magical and he was one of the biggest factors in the Flyers 6-3 win over Nashville
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers - The other factor? Giroux and his two goal, three point night for Philly. That's star power for you.
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators - Listen, Weber can't do it all himself. He really can't. While Johansen's goal was pretty fantastic, Weber tried to will the team back into the game. Unfortunately, it didn't work.