Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Preds Lose Momentum in 3rd, Drop Fifth Straight to Stars

The Preds dropped their fifth consecutive regulation loss, this time falling 4-2 to the Dallas Stars. I'm trying not to rant and rave about their performance as of late, so let's get straight to my thoughts from the game:

1st Period

  • As much as I hate seeing Wade Belak in the lineup, he earned his paycheck for his scrap with Krys Barch. He had just taken a really stupid penalty, but at least he tried to energize the guys. That pretty much set the tone for the game early on, as the rest of the game was very physical, with no love lost between the two teams.
  • I liked the first power play opportunity the Preds had. It didn't result in a goal, but the puck movement was solid, and there wasn't anything cute; if there was an opportunity for a shot, the shot was taken. 
  • Andrew Raycroft was solid the entire game for Dallas, but Stephane Robidas saved his bacon in the first period, robbing Nick Spaling twice on shorthanded attempts when Raycroft ended up way out of his net. A shorthanded goal would've been a huge momentum boost for the Preds, but in the end, momentum was even.
  • Sergei Kostitsyn and Colin Wilson had a great opportunity in the dying seconds of the period and had a great scoring chance. Kostitsyn had made tremendous strides over the past three months, and hopefully he'll only keep improving.
 2nd Period

  • For the most part, the majority of the period was a bit of a yawner. Not too many great scoring chances, although both teams did break through on the scoreboard. Steve Ott scored for Dallas at 4:39, converting on a rebound given up by Pekka Rinne after a glorious opportunity for Kevin Klein left him out of position.
  • Another good fight, this time between Shane O'Brien and Steve Ott, as O'Brien defended his goalie and tried to light a fire under his teammates.When David Poile traded for Shane O'Brien, I didn't think too highly of the transaction. I was pretty excited to see what Ryan Parent and Jonas Andersson could do, and O'Brien's reputation didn't help his case at first glance. Now, in late-December, I'm reminded once again why I am not and never will be an NHL GM. O'Brien has continued to impress me with every facet of his game, including staying disciplined, which concerned me and every other Preds fan out there. Thank you, thank you, thank you David Poile, for once again proving me dead wrong.
  • Raycroft managed to stop the first 31 shots Nashville threw at him, but sooner or later one had to go in, and that one came courtesy of Colin Wilson at 19:00, while on the, wait for it... power play. Could this be the momentum swing the Preds needed that would snap their losing streak?
3rd Period

  • That momentum the Preds had at the end of the second period carried over to the third, as Joel Ward found a streaking Wilson, who broke in on Raycroft and beat him five-hole 32 seconds in. The Preds were on a roll, flying high, sensing their losing streak might be coming to an end. Then, disaster struck.
  • That momentum the Preds had? Virtually gone 1:12 later, as Linus Klasen lost Loui Eriksson in the defensive zone, and Eriksson proceeded to put the puck past Rinne. One lost assignment, and the game was tied.
  • From there, it was all Dallas. At 8:15, Mark Fistric took a shot from the point found it's way past Rinne, having possibly been tipped in front by O'Brien. If it was tipped, then it's hard to fault Pekka for that goal. The next goal, however, was all on him. At 10:05, Rinne left a juicy rebound for Krys Barch, who didn't miss. Bottom line: Pekka has to control his rebounds better. With an offense that is struggling to score like the Preds are, Pekka needs to step up like he did after the Olympic break last season. Everyone knows he is capable of it; whether or not he actually goes out and does that is completely different.
  • Going from up one to down two in roughly nine minutes, the wind was taken out of the Preds sails. There was very little offensive pressure for the rest of the game. A power play opportunity was negated after Shea Weber 'interfered' with Robidas, when in fact Robidas had tripped over Weber's stick himself.
Other Thoughts

  • Patric Hornqvist was everywhere tonight, and I mean everywhere. He recorded a franchise record 14 shots, as well as more than his share of facewashes. Now if the rest of the team could have his mentality...
  • What on earth is going on with Joel Ward? Sure, he had an assist tonight, but beyond that, he was barely noticeable, and has been like that for quite some time now. Mind boggling.
  • The Preds had 46 shots tonight. Most of them weren't quality scoring chances, but for at least one game, the mentality was pass over shoot. That eventually led to the first goal.
As decimated with injuries as the Preds are, other players must step up in their absence. Tonight, they had multiple opportunities to grab momentum and take off with it, but never was able to do so. Still, even though the losing streak is at 5, they are well within striking distance of the top eight in the Western Conference, and there is still over half of the season to go. The Preds fought back from one losing streak earlier this season, and surely they can fight back again.

No excuses.

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