Power Play: Turnovers and inability to finish bury Predators
While it seems like a nightly trend, Nashville had a fairly decent night against Washington on Tuesday night. Yet, when you can't bury chances early and start turning over the puck, the best team in the league is going to burn you. And they did burn the Predators.
Inability to bury chances
You can't harp on the Predators for creating opportunities in front of the net recently. They've been doing that. Burying those opportunities, on the other hand, isn't something they've found a knack for yet. That's not a good thing, either, with so little time left in the season.
Let's rewind back to the first period of Tuesday nights game against the Washington Capitals as the latest example of "woops, we couldn't find the back of the net."
Nashville forced the Capitals back into their own end for the first ten minutes of the opening period, forcing shot after shot at goaltender Braden Holtby -- who was doing a marvelous job in net, mind you. After two very close chances, including a Gaustad-forced puck that nearly crossed the red line behind Holtby, Washington activated its forecheck, caused Weber to turnover the puck and sent Tom Wilson down into the offensive zone where Jason Chimera buried it behind Pekka Rinne.
A fantastic period with a whole boatload of chances just negated in a matter of seconds.
That's one of the reasons Predators can't maintain any semblance of success this season. If you're going to win hockey games, burying those pucks to the back of the net is fairly important.
"The first period was a tough period. We did a lot of good things out there and yet we make one mistake and it ended up in the net," said head coach Peter Laviolette. "It absolutely is a confidence builder if you're able to get the first goal; if you're able to go out of the first period up two to nothing and then you build from there as opposed to chasing a game again.
"It seems like the last few games we've been chasing the game. Against Philadelphia we chased the game. Tonight we chased the game. It's a different way to play. A more difficult way to play the game."
Trying to do too much
It's become apparent that when Nashville gets behind the proverbial eight-ball, they try harder and harder -- on an individual level -- to make plays than they should. Unfortunately, one of the biggest offenders of this is forward Filip Forsberg who tends to take on all five opposing players every time he puts a skate on the ice.
To his credit, I can understand from Forsberg's perspective where he comes from: the team is down by multiple goals and he's just trying to spark the players in any way, shape or form.
There lies the problem.
When one, two or any number of players try to take matters into their own hands to find a boost somewhere on the ice, odds are it's not going to work out in your favor.
It ended up paying off for Forsberg late in the second period where he eventually scored on a beauty of a snipe to the far corner on Holtby, but my biggest concern out of all of this would be that the Predators are trying to do way too much at certain points of the game.
I'm not talking about score effects either, as I know that can amplify this perception. This happens in normal five-on-five scoreless and tied situations as well.
What has turned from something I fully believed would loosen up after the first month of the season has stretched on to month five. That's not promising.
Same story, different day
I feel like that header can just be the third power play header on most nights, unfortunately. For the 20th time this season, the Predators out-shot an opponent and came away with the loss. 15 of those came with Nashville not even earning a point.
That's a bad statistic if I've ever seen one.
Nashville has been a poster child this season of a team that has exemplified almost every advanced statistic imaginable, yet failed to produce in the one column that they need to produce the most: wins.
Remarkably, and I mean that in the most sincere way possible, Nashville fell to 25-21-8 on the season. Nowhere in my wildest imagination would I have thought the Predators would only have 58 points in mid-February and be only 14-10-3 at home.
"There's so much parity in the league," said Laviolette. "We just have to collect points. We did some good things out here tonight, but we did enough to shoot ourselves in the foot as well."
Filip Forsberg, Nashvile Predators -- Forsberg may have been trying to be a one-man army tonight, but he's looked much more like the Forsberg of last season over the past handful of games than he has for the past couple of months. Hopefully, it'll stay like that for the remainder of the year.
Marcus Johansson, Washington Capitals -- Johansson has had himself a great season so far with his goal tonight being the ultimate game-winner against the Predators.
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals -- Without Holtby, Nashville would have had an easy one to two goal lead coming out of the first period, but man alive some of the saves he made were just stellar. Holtby has been a different goaltender this season and I'd venture to guess a lot of the thanks can be given to Capitals goaltending coach Mitch Korn.