The Predators play their last game of this 4-game road trip today against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center. While they aren’t up yet, I dare say that by time you read this you’ll be able to find game previews via On the Forecheck
and Preds on the Glass, and possibly among the other fine Preds bloggers. You could say this is a trip of mixed emotions, though that would typically not be the case. Western California is not a place that is typically kind to Preds, yet the Preds have opportunity to go 2-1 this trip with a win tomorrow, completing the road trip at 3-1 (Win at Atlanta 2-1, loss at San Jose 8-6, win at Anaheim 1-0 so far). Any Preds fan would happily accept 3 out of 4 games won, from a standings perspective. Happily… except that the 8-5 loss to San Jose occurred in a game in which the Predators went into the 2nd intermission holding a 4-2 lead. The Predators that had only lost 3 times this season when leading after 2 periods allowed *6* 3rd period goals. Myself included, Pred-heads everywhere voiced their concerns about this collapse. Certainly it didn’t mean the end of our season, but it was an important 2 points that slipped away and a person could understandably begin to have questions about the mentality of this team. How would the team respond playing less that 24 hours later in an arena that we’ve had frightening little success in? While it couldn’t be said that a complete 180-degree turn was made, the Preds certainly played measurably better, keeping the high-scoring Ducks off the scoresheet, which allowed Shea Weber’s lone 5-on-3 goal to stand as the game-winner.
The future looks bright for Nashville, with the players that are expected to carry us past the Arnott-Dumont-Sullivan era beginning to look more and more comfortable. Looking particularly strong is Colin Wilson, who has played 11 games since being recalled on February 9. In those 11 games, he has scored 4 goals, of which 2 were game-winning goals, and tallying 3 assists while averaging 13:22 time on ice. The majority of this time has been played on the 3rd line, a role not counted on for offensive contributions. The hard work of Wilson has found favor with the coaching staff as well, with Wilson being promoted to first line duties alongside Arnott and Erat, and also finding himself on the 2nd power play unit.
Ellis likely has played himself out of any more starts, which the possible exception being the back-to-back games against Columbus and St. Louis on the 20th and 21st of March. Ellis is not solely to blame for the San Jose loss in the least, but his play in the third was horrible. There’s was no question that the Sharks were going to come out pressing in the third and that the goaltending was going to have to be up to the challenge.
This week NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell cited the need to follow “precedent” in not suspending Matt Cooke for a vicious and cowardly headshot that has almost certainly ended Marc Savard’s season, and with it, possibly Boston’s playoff aspirations. The league then deviated from the mentality of following precedent set when the War Room in Toronto (which reviews all controversial goals during games) when it allowed Malhotra’s kicked-in goal to be allowed after having disallowed Boyd’s goal in the period prior, which had incidentally bounced in off a skate, although whether it was Boyd’s or the Sharks defender’s is unknown. I may be wrong, but I am convinced these 2 reviewed goals completely took Nashville out of the game. I can empathize with how disheartening it must have been to the players to have such inconsistency have such a profound effect on their hard work.
If you’ve read to this point, well done. You deserve a cookie. Go get yourself one. And while you’re at it, leave your comments. – Big Kev