Monday, April 30, 2012

Preds in major hole after losing Game 2

The Phoenix Coyotes were able to grab a commanding 2-0 series lead on Sunday night, defeating the Nashville Predators by a 5-3 score. Nashville has given up nine goals in the first two games of this series, which is uncharacteristic to say the least.

Phoenix got goals from Antoine Vermette, Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata, Taylor Pyatt and Shane Doan on the night. They took advantage of several defensive lapses by the Predators, and were able to score timely goals to keep the Predators behind on the scoreboard.

One of the bright spots for the Predators in Game 2 was the power play. They got two power play goals from Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Suter, which allowed them to hang around in the game. However, Nashville's defense simply hasn't been good enough in the first two games of this series. Pekka Rinne has been left out to dry on numerous occasions, and the Coyotes have been able to capitalize on those defensive mistakes by the Predators.

Nashville has been down 2-0 in a series twice before throughout the history of their franchise. Both of those instances came at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings in 2004 and 2008 respectively. In both cases, the Predators were able to win the next two games at home to even the series at two games apiece. However, they also ended up losing the series in six games in both instances.

The Predators have to get back to the identity that has made them successful all season if they hope to get back in this series. Nashville has always been a defensively minded team that has relied upon opportunistic offense to win games. This year, the Predators have more offensive talent than in years past. In the first two games of this series, the Predators have tried to play more of a wide open style of hockey and it hasn't worked. Their team defense has been uncharacteristically sloppy. That has to change if they hope to come back and win the series.

Game 3 between these two teams will be on Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville has to win that game. They cannot afford to fall into a 3-0 series deficit. While teams have come back from a 3-0 deficit in the past, it's rare and extremely unlikely. Expect the Predators to be better defensively on Wednesday night. They have no choice. It's a must-win game for them.

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