“We’re not working hard enough,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of his team’s lapses. “I don’t know what else to say. If you don’t invest a lot, you won’t like it at the end. The stretches that aren’t going our way are the stretches that we’re getting outplayed. It’s because we’re missing some bite in our game.”
However, one bright spot in an otherwise bleak game was defenseman Yannick Weber, who continued to prove his worth to the defenseman-rich Predators.
In the first period, he laid out through the neutral zone to break up a potential Johnny Gaudreau breakaway. The next period, he put together a mammoth defensive effort, blocking a shot then doing everything he could to clear the zone, leading to a Viktor Arvidsson breakaway. When he hit the post with the shot, Weber hustled forward to clean it up and give the Predators a 2-1 lead.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 16, 2018
Despite taking a penalty that resulted in a 5-on-3 goal for the Flames later in the period, Weber finished the game with a solid stat line, taking two shots and blocking one in just under 10 minutes of ice time.
“Four-on-four, you have to be aware,” Weber said of his herculean effort leading to a goal in the second period. “They have Gaudreau out there, who is quite shifty four-on-four, so I knew that we had to definitely have a defense-first mindset. There was a little bit of a breakdown with a two-on-one, and with Gaudreau there’s a pretty good chance he’s going to pass it. So I really played the pass and was able to intercept it. After that, I was kind of cheating for a breakaway and I finally got to him [Arvidsson]. I thought he’s definitely going to score. He missed it and I just wanted to follow up in case there was a rebound and luckily I was there.”
The Predators have arguably the best defensive unit in the NHL with four bona-fide top defenseman on their top four. Given how much attention they get, Weber’s plays can sometimes go unnoticed by outside observers, especially when he usually gets only 10-15 minutes of ice time per game.
However, Weber’s efforts are not lost on his teammates.
“Yeah definitely,” captain Roman Josi said when asked if Weber goes underappreciated. “He’s been playing really good this year. He was playing awesome for us last year. Inside this locker room, we know how big of a piece he is in our D corps and he’s doing a great job.”
Despite the top-to-bottom talent that the Predators boast, Weber doesn’t feel like he has to make the extra effort to get noticed on the ice.
“Everybody has a role on this team, and everybody’s got a job to do,” he said. “If I can chip in offensively, I’ll do so. I think, other than that, it’s about my role and the way I play.”
Weber’s efforts were not nearly enough on the night as the Predators allowed two third-period goals en route to the loss. A Nick Bonino tally late in the third period gave the team some life, but the team could not complete the comeback and send the game to overtime for the sixth straight game.
Laviolette was not ready to praise the team’s continued comeback efforts as of late.
“Why are we coming back in games, though?” he said. “If you come back or if you don’t come back, you can’t come back every night. We should focus on the part that’s putting us in the hole where we have to fight back. Again for me, it’s just we’ve got to dig in a little more.”
The Predators look to bounce back on Saturday when they take on the Detroit Red Wings.