After the coach ripped his team, after the players ripped themselves, a better effort tonight was assured. They had the superlative Rinne still, but not too many of the Preds showed up in Game 1. They showed up in Game 2. They needed a little bit of a lucky break to get there, but the Predators made the most of it and are now going back to Bridgestone Arena with the home ice advantage.
The Preds are a team that is built on hard work and no real offensive stars, along with a Norris nominee in Weber, a just as good partner in Suter, and a goalie who was an 8th round pick in 2004. (Only because he backed up Niklas Backstrom in Europe and no one saw him! ) Their pride was hurt with how badly they were outplayed in Game 1, and had a much more inspired effort tonight.
So much of the team that gets pressure comes from the team that is winning the draws. The Canucks dominated that stat in the opener. The Preds were the better in this game.
Let’s change it up a bit. I’m going to paint the picture with, different brushes tonight, so to speak.
In regards to how the Predators had the run of play in regulation,and this really was a case of two different games, with the Preds the dominant one in regulation, and the Canucks way more dominant in the overtime, but here’s how the stats finished up overall.
-Nashville won 51 of 89 draws tonight. Legwand took 23 draws, and lost 5 of them. Very impressive. He was 16 of 20 late in the third. meaning he lost only one draw the rest of the way.
-For all that, they were not the best defensively. The broadcast mentioned 7 odd man rushes against them in the third period alone, and I saw plenty more than that. The Canucks were just not that good at executing on those breaks against a team that is normally much tighter than that.
-Refereeing still continues to, sadly, be an issue in the NHL. Which ever way it goes is like predicting the lottery, talking to a stump, or anything else that is all luck and little sense. Tonight, the referees let so many things go both ways, but only gave the home team one power play, on a very obvious tripping play by Tootoo on Ballard behind the net. I know that Mr Tootoo has turned his life around, but putting your stick in the opposition’s knee like that is horribly dirty when they are cutting around the net. It was no respect and should have been called. The thing is though, by the standards of the game, they let the Predators get away with a helluva lot more than is normal tonight. The Canucks too, but…
Samuelsson’s interference call was questionable, and the hooking call on Ehrhoff was laughable. Its a shame, really. The Predators did not need the help tonight. The Canucks sure got no help either, when a great chance late in regulation, where Hansen just missed the puck, was in part broken up because Erat violently crosschecked him. Desperate hockey and a closing seconds play, give them a break, right? It was in the head. Hard. The referee was right there, and saw it. Make a call. The overtime penalties were too many men and clearing the puck, both were deserved. But, sadly, the officiating once again will be a question going forward for some. They have good reason sometimes, you know? Don’t just pish posh your friend the next time they complain about it.
That being said, the officiating did not give this game to the Predators. They did that for themselves. Consider that it was during the Ehrhoff penalty kill that Burrows scored his third in two games. A nice little passing play up the ice, and a hardwork, keep going to the puck effort for Burrows, with help from Kesler.
-But the Predators did a great job on the Sedins most of the night. Part of that was winning the draws, but they were much more engaged in their own end tonight, blocking passes, getting sticks in, and playing hard.
They were lucky to not go down to back to back shutouts against Roberto Luongo. It will be one of those games that the haters will point to and nod knowingly, but those braying asses are rarely right, and they are not tonight either. The Predators outshot the Canucks 36 to 15 through regulation. The only goal was a lucky goal, plain and simple. The kind that happen in the game of hockey.
Ryan Suter was pinching down late in the period, and was defended. The attempt to get the puck in front was tipped by Hamhuis, found Luongo’s stick, and then his skate before skittering in. You’ll forgive me if I don’t lose confidence in him over that.
The switch was flipped in the overtime period, that is for sure. The Canucks may, or may not be, a little spent after their seven game classic with the Hawks. Usually, adrenaline will get them through the first game, coming just two days later. It might have been a reason tonight that they just weren’t as sharp. But they tried to make up for it in overtime, and it was only Rinne who gave his team a chance to win.
Consider that, even with a power play in each of the overtimes, the Canucks outshot the visitors 18 to 10. But why don’t I just show you.
and for good measure,
Almost forgot this one…
The Predators though, won it on a hard working goal, winning a neutral zone turnover, and the Canucks defenders (ironically, Kesler’s line is usually pretty good like that. Rome may have stepped up a bit too quickly as well…) letting Halischuk get in too easy.
Maybe Luongo went down a touch early, maybe not. It was a perfectly placed shot for the 4th liner, and the team that deserved to win in regulation but got lucky to get to overtime, got lucky to get the goal against the run of play, after their goalie made numerous saves to keep the team even playing. Bieksa has to be thinking of what if I just got the puck a bit higher.
But that’s playoff hockey. The drama will continue in Nashville Tuesday night, and I am sure it will be another entertaining game. I will even predict that, while not predicting a win outright, that the Canucks will execute far better in that game. If the Predators try to entertain there fans, or even play the game they played tonight, it probably won’t be enough.
They were able to recover and defend very well on the many odd man rushes against tonight. They should not expect the Canucks to make it easy on them in that regard Tuesday night.
The series definitely ON now though!