Last night the Predators lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 7-2 at home in Bridgestone Arena. Needless to say, it was not the outcome any Preds fan wanted, but it begs some questions on what exactly is going on with Nashville right now?
This is the eighth game this season where Nashville has let in five goals or more, a stat they have only overcome once. Over the last four games, Nashville has also been outscored 23-10, allowing 16 goals between the games with Chicago and Colorado.
First Period – Cursed by Deflections
The start of the game seemed to be no issue for the home team, with absolutely dominating play from Nashville in Chicago ice. The Blackhawks matched that play, but seemed to play closer to the man across the board, allowing for a lot of turnovers and broken up plays. Several shot attempts from Nashville were broken up by deflections, again allowing for a series of fast breaks from Chicago.
Things quickly changed when the horn sounded just 6:33 into the First, as Erik Gustafsson put on past Rinne.
The rest of the period remained pretty even from both sides, with consistent back-and-forth play. This was a definitely shift in the Nashville-dominated play from the first half of the period and it ultimately allowed for more breakages in the Nashville lines.
Chicago capitalized on it to close off the first with a goal from Dominik Kubalik at 18:04
Second Period – Nashville Lines Begin to Break
The opening of the second period was Nashville dominated again, but that was quickly overturned with a goal from Brent Seabrook at 1:51 into the period.
Nashville was able to outshoot the Hawks for this period 14-8 it was not enough to stop the newly collected Chicago from capitalizing on every opportunity they had. Nearly ten minutes after the first goal rang from Seabrook, David Kampf put the final shot past Rinne at 11:39 into the second. Rinne was pulled after this goal and replaced by the young Juuse Saros, with just over half of the game played.
It was clear now that the Nashville defense was beginning to spread too far and leaving the goaltender dry. Nashville fans were still hopeful of a comeback.
Third Period – Mojo Lost and Found
The third and final stanza was by far the most intensive, with lamps being lit on both sides, but two goals from Josi were not enough to put the boys in gold past Chicago.
Luckily, we were able to see a more energized Nashville for the start of the period. Strong, gritty plays were the new theme from the Nashville bench, matching the ferocity that was seen from Chicago for most of the night. This culminated in a hard fought goal from Roman Josi at the front of the Chicago net at 3:40 into the third.
The next few minutes of play were strong, but a broken up Nashville defense allowed for three unanswered Chicago goals, on from Patrick Kane and two from Alex Nylander. The Preds seemed to get a little more energy on them at the end of the night, as Roman Josi put in a second at 18:52 to close off the score and finalize the score at 7-2 Chicago.
The goal from Kane put the Fabbro-Ekholm pairing down to a -3 on the night, after the line had allowed for all three of Chicago’s opening goals from each period. The remainder of the roster was down at a -2, except for the Josi-Ellis pairing and the Jarnkrok-Duchene-Arvidsson line, who sat even from Josi’s two goals.
Thirteen different Chicago players registered a point last night, with Brent Seabrook up a +5 on the night, registering a goal and being on ice for another four.
It seems the theme of these recent losses is not only a broken up defense, as can be seen from some of the Nashville pairings, but also a mix up in play styles. Players like Duchene, Forsberg, Jarnkrok, and even Grimaldi lean towards fast paced, puck controlling game. The other side of the roster, including Watson, Granlund, Bonino, and Arvidsson seem to rely on a slower, pass and handle centric play. All the defensive pairing have done a great job with containing the puck in enemy ice, but they often seem too spread out in front of our own net, allowing for easier opportunities for the opposing side.
Nashville is back at home this Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets at 7:00 PM. Winnipeg is coming off of a win against Tampa Bay last night, while the Preds will be looking to end their losing streak.