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Power Play: Nashville Predators play with fire, get burnt badly

Poor start and more unfortunate bounces

Sooner or later, Nashville’s going to need to address how they come out of the gate to start the game.

Sure, there have been abnormalities to the equation over the past ten or so games, but for the most part the Predators just haven’t come out to start the first period. That’s part of playing 60 minutes of hockey: you have to play all three periods with the same intensity across the board.

Nashville most definitely isn’t doing that and they’ve even said as much during their between-periods discussions and post-game scrums.

Against Detroit on Saturday night, the Predators outshot the Red Wings over the course of the first 20 minutes, however were easily subjected to a handful of odd-man rushes — including plenty of times where defensemen, including their main pairing of Shea Weber and Roman Josi, being caught way out of position.

Luckily, Nashville didn’t get burned by any of those. However, the one they did was just an exercise in extremely bad luck — something the Predators have seen in droves lately.

Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar brought the puck down low nearly on level with Pekka Rinne, fed the puck to Brad Richards who was able to get the shot off. Rinne made the initial save, but the rebound bounced off an incoming Weber — who was attempting to stop — and right into the net.

You can’t blame losses on bad bounces, that’s just not the way it works. However, those bounces can definitely sway the course of a game.

Second period switcheroo

The aforementioned first period against the Red Wings wasn’t a very good period, but whatever was said in the locker room in between periods for Nashville paid off coming out for the second period.

Less than three minutes in, Nashville had tied the game via a Shea Weber cannon blast and then taken its first lead off a Viktor Arvidsson tip past Detroit goaltender Petr Mrazek.

It’s often said that “I’d love to hear what such-and-such coach said between the periods” when teams have change in pressure from one period to the immediate next, However I never really felt that was ever the case inside Nashville’s locker room with Barry Trotz. Laviolette, though? Could be a different story.

Back when Laviolette coached for the Philadelphia Flyers, HBO’s 24/7 painted him as a coach that had a very strong presence in the locker room — one that really instilled a jam-like mentality into his players.

Don’t believe me? Well, watch this fantastic video of an intermission speech he gave during the second intermission of a game against the Colorado Avalanche.

Mind you, his language is definitely NSFW.

I’d like to imagine that Laviolette still has these kind of moments from time to time. In post-game press conferences, there have been a handful of moments where Laviolette has been short and to the point after a rough loss here or there, something that’s bound to happen.

I can’t reasonably think that every time a bad period happens for Nashville, Laviolette will have a “ho hum, keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll have success” mentality.

It really makes me wish that the Predators would be featured in a Winter Classic game in the next handful of years so that we can find out if the above video is ever re-created inside Nashville’s locker room.

What happens when you play to survive instead of putting your foot on the gas

Extremely frustrating.

I think those are the two best words to describe how the Predators finished their game against Detroit on Saturday.

Entering the third period against the Wings, Nashville held a 3-2 lead. If you go back and watch the film on this one, you can see the Predators fall back to Detroit’s unrelenting pressure after only five minutes into the period.

For the entire remainder of the third, outside of the Predators power play opportunity midway through, Nashville seemingly sat back and fought to push the Red Wings out of the defensive zone. That’s a recipe for failure if I’ve ever seen one.

Did the Preds just not have the ability to match Detroit’s intensity in the third?

Not to mention the fact that their penalty kill isn’t doing very much to help them out right now, there are so many questions that could be asked of exactly what happened in Nashville’s seventh loss in its past nine games.

The biggest of those could be what was going through the mind of Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis when he boarded center Darren Helm late in regulation only leading by one?

You could easily argue that Helm did a very good job of selling the hit to lure a penalty call. He did. He crumbled to the ice and hopped up immediately after the official threw up his arm. Regardless, this was entirely on Ellis as it seemed to be a retaliatory hit for one that Helm laid on him earlier.

Detroit would score 16 seconds into the subsequent power play to tie the game and win it just 101 seconds into overtime.

It would be simple to say that Nashville may have won that game if it were not for the Ellis penalty, but you know how the saying goes: If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.


Shea Weber, Nashville Predators — Weber is the first defensemen in Predators history to ever record a hat trick. Franchise records are always first-star material, it’s just a shame that Nashville wasted the effort.

Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings — Can’t fault me for putting Nyquist here. He had his chances throughout the game, but scored when it was most crucial. Nyquist’s goal less than two minutes into overtime gave Detroit their third straight goal and the win.

Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings — The 19-year old phenom is continuing to impress for the Wings. His goal midway through the third period was absolutely beautiful to watch.

Talking Points