Preds extinguished by Flames, hope to fly again against Jets

by Jackson Walsh

The celebration before Tuesday night’s contest in Bridgestone Arena, while still remaining a controversial subject amongst fans (is ultimately coming up short something to celebrate?), was nevertheless an exciting tribute to last year’s league-best regular season squad as three more banners fly from the once bare rafters on top of ‘The Stone’. The fans in attendance were hoping all that pep rally noise would be enough to urge the home team on to victory. But sadly, three words define the game from there: Control. Alt. Delete.

The Predators were blanked by the Flames 3-0 to start this four-game homestand in a game the team would desperately like to have back. All things considered though the game was pretty tight except for early penalties from Nashville, three in the first 25 minutes of the contest. Two of those penalties, a hooking call on Matthias Ekholm and a bench minor call for too many men on the ice, led to two Flames power play goals. The goals were scored by Elias Lindholm 16:11 into the first period and Sean Monahan at the 5:22 mark in the second period. Despite putting 43 shots on net against stout goaltender Mike Smith and even having a few man advantages of their own (including a very lackluster 5-on-3 opportunity), the Preds just could not put anything on the board as Sean Monahan added his second goal of the game 33 seconds into the third period and that would be that.

Now we need to get the bad taste of that loss out of our mouths, who do we have next? None other than the Winnipeg Jets, the same team that broke our hopes of another Stanley Cup Final berth last year. And you bet they’ll be pulling into Music City hoping for the same demoralizing effect Thursday night. But the Jets at 2-1-0 with 4 points are in the same situation as we are to start out, getting their second victory in their home in Manitoba over the Kings 2-1. They also have some lines that can be explosive much like our JoFA line or the Fiala-Turris-Smith line, the Jets counter with Connor-Scheifele-Wheeler, Ehlers-Little-Laine, Copp-Lowry-Tanev, and Vesalainen-Roslovic-Perreault, all lines with players that know how to score and can score at any time, as we saw this past April.

It’ll be a tough game for the Jets, a team with not only lethal weapons, but also a team coming off winning 64% of their faceoffs in the game against Los Angeles. Something the Predators have struggled in is winning faceoffs. They won 56% of them against Calgary but only 45% against the Islanders and 53% against the Rangers. Against Winnipeg, I’m hoping for better numbers off the draw to limit scoring opportunities for this scrappy, determined Winnipeg offense. The first key to the game is faceoffs.

The second, discipline, discipline, discipline. In other words, stay out of the box. That can’t be said enough after last season and the lack of progress on limiting penalty kill time so far this season.

The third key to the game is time in the offensive zone. Loose pucks and sloppily corralled passes led to breakaway after breakaway Tuesday night, and we all know Winnipeg will take full advantage if we don’t make the best of time at the opponent’s end of the rink.

This is quite possibly our most important two points to get in October, if nothing else to get that mojo and spark back into Smashville.

Tomorrow at 7:00, it’s game on.

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