Made a lot of posts in the chat room throughout the game, but will try to rehash my thoughts here...
Great start to the game. We came ready to play and took it to Anaheim in the first ten minutes. Sustained pressure in the offensive zone, quick outlets by Ellis to start the rush negating Anaheim's dump and chase game early, drew a penalty, and bang Zidlciky puts us up 1-0.
Zids with 3 goals and 21 assists now on the season. I know he gets ripped on a lot, hell...I rip on him a lot, but he has been performing recently and is playing with a whole new level of confidence right now paired with Koistinen that reminds me of when he paired with Kimmo to make one of the most feared pairings in the league.
During the second TV timeout (~10 minute mark), Anaheim obviously figured out that they were getting dominated due to Ellis's stickhandling ability and that they had to change up their game plan. We immediately saw a couple of shifts in a row with soft dump-ins that made our defensemen skate back into the zone for the puck with a forechecker in tow and suddenly Anaheim is playing to their stregths using their size to create turnovers and create chances off the cycle (with some illegial picks mixed in for good measure). Play starts shifting their way, but overall we remain pretty even for the rest of the period, but definitely can't be totally happy...especially with the emergence of Anaheim in the final ten minutes of the period.
In the first intermission I summed up my thoughts as, we must be prepared for Anaheim to start making more and more soft and cross-corner dump-ins to negate Ellis. Must continue to stand up at the blueline and force the pucks to be dumped in. Need to make sure we keep things simple in our end and move the puck quickly up and out...the first time every time.
I also ripped Suter a new one. Felt that he was flinching at the Anaheim forecheck and began playing very tentative as soon as the Ducks started with the big hits. I feel he is still not confident that he is 100% healthy and he is doing everything he can to avoid getting that one hit that will reaggreviate his injury and put him back out of the lineup. Said that if he was still doubting himself, then he should have stepped up and sat out since Klein is doing a pretty damn good job filling in and there is no way that Suter can be playing effectively if he isn't playing confidently. Called for him to either get over his demons and play with confidence or sit out and give the team a break because he sure wasn't being effective playing with fear in the first period.
So the second period starts and one team decides to show up and work. Unfortunately it was Anaheim and we're tied and then trailing 2-1 within 90 seconds of starting the period. I called for a timeout and a tirade there, but nothing of the sort happened and you hoped that the players were going to take it upon themselves to pull together and get back to work...didn't happen. Instead we start playing stupid and take two stupid penalties to put ourselves down 5 v 3. Now, I'm sure in the pregame meetings it was heavily discussed that you want to stay out of the penalty box against a team that features Pronger, Niedermeyer, Beauchemin, and Schneider at the points with plenty of size and skill down low. But we decided to forget that too and paid dearly for it with 2 PPG's against and suddenly it's 4-1 and the game is all but over nine minutes into the second period...just nine minutes after coming out of the locker room with a lead. Stanley Cup Champions earn their titles by taking advantage of the opportunities you give them...Anaheim certainly showed us that you can't play any less than 60 minutes of solid hockey against them if you want to come out of their rink with a victory. We failed to show up for the second period and Anaheim completely, totally dominated us. I actually felt that from the time we went down 4-1 till the final couple of shifts when we changed up the lines that the team had far too many players mailing it in and that disappointed me.
During the second intermission there were probably only 5 of us still active in the room and despite the overwhelming majority opinion wanting total destruction of the locker room in a massive tirade, I called for a different approach. I felt that an angry response was going to get tuned out at this point and that these guys are professionals and know very well that they put themselves behind the eight ball in the second period and that everyone in that room let each other down during the second period. I felt that you get back to the basics. Concentrate on the original game plan and playing Predators hockey. You play to win the period and gain some momentum going into tomorrow night. Heck, 20 minutes is a long time and if you take things a shift at a time, lord only knows what will transpire...maybe we get back into this game, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. I also mentioned that I would subtely, but strongly let it be known that anyone that floated through the third period would find themselves in the stands tomorrow.
Third period you can tell that we've come to play. We are not being dominant at all, but that's not going to happen when your down by three goals to the Ducks in the third. We're getting some chances and giving up an equal number due to taking chances in the offensive zone and suddenly we're back on the PP. OK, that PP sucked...never was able to establish full control of the puck outside of one keep in and that's 2:00 down the drain. But wait...the ref raises his arm again and we get some sustained pressure in the Anaheim zone on the delay before Zidlicky loses the puck and the PP begins. Having trouble again setting it up, Pronger gets the puck on his stick behind the goal line and is facing center ice - puck cleared? Nope, Zidlicky with a great keep in, walks the line a little and snaps the puck into the slot where Arnott has a Duck draped all over him. He somehow gets the puck over to Dumont standing off to Giguere's left and bang...4-2! We have a game...or do we? Gotta give the guys some props on that goal, second PP goal of the night, and with the goal JP extends his goal-scoring streak to five games.
We start seem a little reenergized by the goal, but so does Anaheim and the exchange of chances continues...until Perry suddenly skates across our blueline and skates right between the defense (Zanon and Suter) - who basically look at each other and say "your man" "no, your man" - and throws the puck on Ellis with Suter in tow. Ellis gets a toe on the puck, but the rebound is laying right there and Kunitz simply follows in and puts it up and over Ellis...5-2 Ducks game over. Give the boys some credit, they didn't pack it in and played out the rest of the period, even generating some good scoring chances that just didn't get by Giguere. At least they tied that period 1-1 and can hold their heads up tomorrow going into LA.
Post game thought was that it's great to be playing tomorrow. Overall, not a horrid performance, but we have to come ready to play every shift, every game otherwise teams will make us look pathetic and we will lose games which simply cannot happen at this point in the season. Gotta learn from our mistakes tonight and forget it. You can't change the past and we need to take it out on LA tomorrow night in their building. Still think that we should have called a timeout as soon as the second goal was scored in the second period to at least attempt to wake up our team and break up the momentum that Anaheim had created coming out of the gates taking it to us. Saving the timeout turned out to be useless, but you can't assume that your suddenly going to be down 4-1 either. At some point words can only mean so much. Gotta have the players go out there and take the reins and show the team the way. Lead by example.
Think that Suter should be privately ripped again and that Klein should replace him in the lineup for not just tomorrow, but for Columbus too. Tell him he has until Sunday to heal up and earn his spot back in practice. You don't want a player to lose their spot in the lineup due to injury, but you also don't want them hurting the team either by playing before they are 100% if there is someone else playing up to snuff like Klein has been. Additionally, I would sit Smithson and replace Ortmeyer as they are similiar players (although Ortmeyer doesn't take faceoffs) and I was very upset at Jerred's untimely high-sticking penalty in the third period. Orts gives it his all every shift he is out there and I'm sure he has been jumping at the bit to get back into the lineup. Time to give him a shot.
Again, thankfully there is not too much time to worry about tonight's game as we have to turn right around and play in LA. See ya'll in the morning.
Definitely think that Mason should start in LA tonight and possibly even in Columbus too, as he has a tremendous record against the Blue Jackets. Ellis should get a rest and come back between the pipes on Sunday at home against the Hawks.
Wow what a game, we were great. Really outplayed them and Zid with a PPG!!
Oh wait, you mean a game is more than 10 minutes?
No GDT? No wonder we lost.
I completely agree about Suter. He was out of position and just bad. I wouldn't be surprised to see Klein vs LA (I hope so anyways). People always say it's bad to notice the dmen. Well Suter was noticeable all night. I hope it's a case of him trying too hard and trying to come back too soon and not just going into a bad slump.
I wouldn't really blame Ellis for any of the goals (maybe that one that got through his legs). He was screened and had next to zero help on some of them. But I also agree about starting Mason in LA.
At least Dumont got his goal to keep his streak alive. And it was a nice goal, too. In between 4 Duck PKers and was able to get the shot under Giggy.
Radulov could have had a goal if he could have taken another step or two before shooting it looked like Rads could have caught Giguere out too far and too commited to one side. But alas he was falling and had to shoot and Giguere made the save. But still great chance that almost went in if Giggy didn't get a toe or something on it.
Either the PK for both teams was terrible or the PP for both teams was great. Getting the PPG's was great, but giving them up was terrible.
I can't believe we were so badly outplayed in the second period. I know they were more physical, but damn, we just had no answer at all. We were only credited with 5 hits all night. In the second and third period we were outshot 30-12! At one point in the first period they showed the scoring chances were 7-0 Preds, at the end of the period they were 7-3. Anaheim was already starting to take over. And in the second they did for good. It was like the Preds thought they could just coast on to a win and suddenly we were losing and Anaheim went on a PP and they never looked back while we were struggling just to get control of the puck.
I thought maybe if we could have got one in the second we had a chance in the third to get it tied up. But even when we did score that second goal in the third we still had plenty of time. Actually if we didn't hit the post at least twice in the game we could have been tied....until that 5th Duck goal.
I don't understand why we can play them so well at home but in ANA we can't win. (I guess they wonder the same thing lately.)
I hope the team is ready for some payback to LA for the embarassment they gave us last time out there.