Wednesday, February 9, 2011

No excuses: Preds dominate Wings 4-1 (with a mini-rant)

“The guys who have been the most con­sis­tent are Ser­gei Kos­titsyn and Shea Weber,” Trotz said. “Where’s (David) Leg­wand? Where’s (Mar­tin) Erat? Where’s (Patric) Hornq­vist? Where are guys who are sup­po­sed to score?”
Those words were uttered by Barry Trotz after practice on Tuesday morning, and you can believe that all three of the players mentioned above, as well as the rest of the team, thought long and hard about Barry's harsh comments on the flight up to Detroit. Right out of the gate, the Preds outplayed and outskated their Central division rival (again), and walked out of Joe Louis Arena with a huge 4-1 victory. Pekka Rinne returned to his normal self, stopping 34 of 35 shots, the PK unit was flawless, and the power play unit even chipped in.

I just don't understand this team sometimes. They come to play against the big boys, but when it comes to the teams they should beat, they play down to their level, and worse, they oftentimes get beat. Trotz's comments on Tuesday morning seemed to question their commitment, and although it's nowhere near the commitment level of teams such as Ottawa, I can't help but raise my eyebrows and grow slightly concerned. Sure, the competition in the playoffs will be much better as teams such as Edmonton will be sitting at home, but you have to make the playoffs first, and considering how tight the Western conference race is right now, beating the teams you know you should beat is essential. Nashville's schedule doesn't get any easier from here on out, and hopefully the substantial number of home games will boost their performance, with a playoff berth hopefully at the end of the tunnel.

1st Period

  • Nashville got that ever important first goal at 3:09, as Martin Erat skated down the left side in Detroit’s zone and fired a laser beam over Jimmy Howard’s glove.
  • The Preds doubled their lead at 14:13, as David Legwand deposited the rebound of a Ryan Suter blast into a wide open net. Kudos to Patric Hornqvist for setting an outstanding screen in front of Howard that led to Legwand being the beneficiary of that wide open net.
  • Two goals, and all three players that Barry Trotz had called out on Tuesday morning had contributed in some fashion.
  • Nice to see the Preds play so well out of the gate after Monday night’s debacle. Tonight’s first period looked like the first 10-ish minutes of the Edmonton game, but WITH RESULTS. 

2nd Period

  • All season long, holding onto leads and expanding upon them has been a problem for the offensively challenged Preds. Not a problem on this night, as Colin Wilson banged home his own rebound past Howard at 1:03. The play started as Joel Ward hustled after a puck that had been dumped in, and that hustle led to a loose puck ending up on the stick of Jerred Smithson, who in turn centered a pass to Wilson.
  • Completely contrary to Monday night’s game, everything that was going wrong for the Preds on Monday night was the complete opposite tonight. After the first penalty of the game had been called at 9:48 on Detroit’s Jakub Kindl (!), Nashville’s power play made them pay, as Sergei Kostitsyn put home the rebound of a Shea Weber cannonade. Once again, give credit to Hornqvist for setting ANOTHER great screen in front of Howard. Howard was immediately replaced by Joey McDonald.
  • Detroit finally got on the board at 16:02, as Ruslan Salei netted his first of the season by tipping home a Henrik Zetterberg centering feed as he was skating by the net. Todd Bertuzzi seemed to get away with a trip on Kevin Klein, but no dice. Thankfully, that ended up having no effect on the end result.

3rd Period

  • Daniel Cleary had a glorious chance to cut the Preds lead to two, but somehow someway missed a Pekka Rinne-less net from between the faceoff circles. Full marks to Sergei Kostitsyn, as he made an attempt to block Cleary’s shot, forcing him to actually try and place the shot… which failed miserably.
  • A scoreless third period, but one where the Preds were effectively shut down the Wings offense and closed out the game.

Other Thoughts

  • At some point in the first period, Marcel Goc went down with the ever popular “upper body injury.” Trotz stated after the game that Goc had a strain of some sort and wasn't expected to miss any time, but if one has been attention to Trotz's assessments of injuries during the season, one can't help but keep their breath held until he plays again. If Goc is out for a decent amount of time, does Blake Geoffrion get called up?
  • The Preds were constantly in front of Howard/McDonald all night long. Nice to see the boys getting back to Predators hockey.
  • During the telecast, it was made known that this was the first Preds road win over Detroit where the Preds won by more than one goal. Talk about a stunning statistic.

Another huge win over Detroit, as Nashville will have two opportunities to take the regular season series, with both games being at home. The Preds now have two days off before facing off against the Colorado Avalanche at the Bridge, the second game of a back-to-back set for the Avs, as they will play in Columbus on Friday night. I'm looking forward to the potential return of Peter Forsberg.

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