The night was wrought with bad decisions from the start. Coach Trotz chose Pekka Rinne over Dan Ellis, sticking with his current pattern of them playing every other game. However, in seasons past, if a goaltender posted a shutout the game before, they were rewarded with another start the following game. Apparently (and thanks to Brandon Felder for asking the question to clear things up), the shutout rule no longer exists. I get sticking to what works, a style of coaching that Trotz swears by, but...Pekka had (what I would consider) a horrible practice on Sunday. Everything that could go in, did go in. That just carried over into the game. And I'm left to wonder what the outcome of the game could have been if Ellis had started.
An equally disappointing decision by the coaching staff was the continued pairing of Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Klein. They have yet to find a good rhythm together on the ice and that's not going to cut it over halfway through the season. It's not as if Trotz isn't aware of their sub-par performance. He and Coach Peterson have called them out in the past and yet it seems as though neither one has worked to find a better fit for the pair. Hamhuis and Klein are good defensemen individually but you wouldn't know that when they take to the ice together. Something needs to change here.
The team on the ice at the Sommet was not the team on the ice in Calgary. Friday night, the Predators played a full 60 minutes of hockey against a team jockeying for a similar place in the standings. Last night, the Predators only mustered a full team effort for about 10 of 60 minutes, against a team just struggling to find themselves at .500. Yes, they found a way to mount a comeback and level the score at 3 a side, but they somehow found a way to let the game slip past them once again. I have seen this happen more often than I care to remember during a home game.
Reading quotes from a lot of players throughout the course of the season so far, they have emphasized the importance of winning games on the road. They have said it is easier to focus on hockey when they're away from the distractions of home. They have said travelling creates more of a team atmosphere, which translates to their performance on the ice. They have even been pleasantly surprised to find better success away from Nashville this season. So what's the deal when it comes to playing at home? It's called home ice advantage for a reason. Thanks to Brandon Felder (again), Jerred Smithson had this to say about the Sommet struggles post-game:
Felder - "Do you guys talk about the slow starts a lot, especially considering March is going to be really critical with all those home games."At least they're aware there is an issue.
Smithson - "Yea, oh yea. We talk about it every night. I wish I had an answer for you but I don't know why we come out that way. We get behind three goals and teams are too good to spot them two or three goals right off the bat. We gotta do something like ASAP, next home game we got to be better. You want to win your home games and be .500 on the road. Our home record isn't where we want it to be."
After a tease of a game (in every possible sense of the word), the Predators hit the road again Wednesday morning, this time with their fathers in tow for the annual Father's Trip. Travelling to Phoenix to visit the Coyotes for the first time this season, I am curious to see how they perform. Phoenix has outperformed everyone's expectations this season and coupled with all of their financial turmoil, one could call them Nashville Predators West. This match up should be an interesting one, to say the least. Puck drops at 8:00pm CST, televised locally on FS TN (channel 28 for Comcast customers).