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Nashville falls flat in road trip

By: Andrew McGill

Nashville was looking like a dominant force both home and away but just lost three-straight road games to fall into the middle of the Western Conference standings.

Nashville was looking like a dominant force both home and away but just lost three-straight road games to fall into the middle of the Western Conference standings.

The Nashville Predators have hit a bit of turbulence. After completing a home stand in which they exploded for 15 goals in five games, they’ve run very, very dry.

Through the first two games of the five game road trip the Preds have managed to get shut out both times, facing Columbus and Minnesota, two teams not exactly known for their defensive prowess. The Preds didn’t lose for their lack of offense however, as they were able to generate 38 shots on net, but were unable to breakthrough due to the play of Sergei Bobrovsky. Defensively, plenty of breakdowns led to four goals on just 18 shots.

Saturday against Minnesota was a different story. They were out-shot, but were still able to manage 23 shots of their own, which was not enough to beat Devan Dubnyk. They gave up 27 shots, including 10 on the penalty kill that lead to two of the Wlds four goals. The loss came against a Wld team that had lost three of four on a road trip.

On Monday night the Predators took the ice against a red hot New York Rangers team that sits atop the Eastern Conference, which didn’t help their situation. The Rangers entered the game winning nine of their last 10, boasting their extremely deep offense, averaging over three goals per game, and league best defense, averaging 1.76 goals against per game.

It was more of the same as the Predators were able to mange 31 shots on goal, but ended up getting stone walled by one of the hottest goalies in the league, Henrik Lundqvist.

Defensive breakdowns were once again the story for a team that is supposed to have one of the deepest units in the league. First, Mike Fisher, a center, somehow got stuck on the blueline, while Roman Josi pinched, leading to a mismatch when Rick Nash picked the puck up off the boards. Nash Blew by Fisher creating a 4-on-1 for the Rangers, in which Nash put the puck in the top left corner, right over Pekka Rinne’s shoulder.

The second goal was also due to a major breakdown, when three Nashville offense men stood in the high slot, bunched up, while Derek Stepan stood right on the doorstep waiting for a perfectly timed pass from Marc Staal. After the Predators went down 2-0 early in the third, the frustration started to show as they received six penalties in the last 12 minutes of the game, stifling any chance at a comeback. The Rangers capped the game off with a power play goal to finish the scoring at 3-0.

Through the last three game on the road the Predators have been outscored 11-0. They have looked too lackadaisical in their own defensive end and that’s where they need to start looking for success. Keeping themselves in the game should be at the forefront of their problems because it’s their bread and butter. They are generating the chances on offense, but just haven’t been converting and part of that has to do with the fact that they’ve faced a string of hot goaltending.

On Thursday, the Preds draw a great match up in Buffalo against a fledgling Sabres team on the fourth of the five game road trip. The Sabres are 4-4-2 this month, including a 1-3-1 record at home. The Predators will need to be more mindful on defense and if they don’t they could find themselves in trouble once again.

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Andrew McGill

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