Just one day following a big win over the Washington Capitals to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Nashville Predators faced a desperate Calgary Flames team needing a win to stay in the race. Even though Nashville got on the board first with a goal from Roman Josi, the team just didn’t seem to click the entire game. In the end, the Predators fell to the Flames 5-2.
“We don’t make excuses for ourselves,” said defenseman Cody Franson. “There’s no reason why we couldn’t have been better out there tonight. We didn’t have our strongest night. Calgary played a strong, systematic game and didn’t give up much. It was just one of those nights where we didn’t quite have it clicking. We’ll put this one behind us and move forward.”
The team isn’t making excuses for the way they played, but the schedule for the weekend was different from what most teams are used to. Nashville played in Washington at 11:30am Central on Saturday and then at home at 4:00pm Central on Sunday. While it’s not a reason for a lost game, for athletes, routine is everything.
“Your routine is way different,” said Franson. “Any time you play back to backs, it’s a tougher situation than normal, day in between, type stuff. We got home at a decent hour last night and got a good sleep. We just didn’t quite have it together.”
Going into the third period, the Predators had given up four straight goals. While the team came out with some fire, including a goal from Seth Jones, it just wasn’t enough. In the first two periods, Nashville put up 36 total shot attempts compared to Calgary’s 48. In the third period alone, the Predators threw 24 shots, compared to 13 for the Flames, but only nine got through on net.
“We executed what we wanted to do a little better,” said Franson. “We won more battles individually and we managed the puck well. We were able to create some offensive zone time because of that, and we generated a lot more pucks to the net. We put some traffic there and hit a few posts. The goalie made some saves on some shots he didn’t really see, so it’s just one of those things where it’s just too little, too late.”
Throughout the past two games, Nashville has been without the service of captain Shea Weber. Seth Jones has filled in on the top pairing with Roman Josi, but each blueliner has had to step up.
“Weber is a massive part of our team and you can’t really fill in for a guy like that,” said Franson. “It’s up to everybody in here to try to pull the rope a little bit and make up for what he brings. He’s a key piece and everybody is trying to play a solid, systematic game and bring everything they an do to the table in order to make up for him being out.”
Even with the loss, the Predators know that they are in the playoffs. All that is left is finishing with the best possible seed. On Tuesday, Nashville faces another team battling for playoff position, the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver currently has 91 points, good for second in the Pacific Division, but just two ahead of Calgary and three ahead of Los Angeles, who is currently on the outside looking in.
“We’re going to prepare for them like we do for everyone else. We’ll look at film, we’ll see what we want to do against them and see how we want to execute our game plan and be focused and ready to go come that day.”
They’ll be playing another desperate team that is duking it out with divisional opponents to secure a playoff bid, but look for Nashville to come out much better Tuesday night after a day of rest on Monday.
View Peter Laviolette’s post game press conference:
Image courtesy of Christina McCullough