Preds Continue To Squander Opportunities At Home
If there’s one thing the boys over on Broadway are consistent at…. it’s being inconsistent. Coming into this 5-game homestand, the Preds had 16 games left before the Olympic break to make some noise and get back in the playoff hunt. With Dallas faltering of late, that’s at least one team they could’ve gained ground on.
Alas, after a strong showing and victory against the Sharks, the Preds blew a 2-0 lead against the league-leading Ducks and lost for only the 2nd time in regulation when they score first. Fast forward to Saturday and an inter-Conference matchup with Ottawa. Though they largely dominated play and significantly outshot the Senators, they were only able to muster one goal, and eventually fell to 0-6 in shootouts this season.
The next night brought the hated Minnesota Wild to Music City for a rare Sunday night home game. This was perhaps the worst showing of the season for the Preds, who have made a habit of making 2nd and 3rd string goalies look like world beaters. The latest disappointing effort was against Darcy Kuemper, who needed to stop a mere 23 shots to record his first career shutout.
This leaves the Preds in familiar territory… a homestand about to end that hasn’t panned out. The best they can muster at this point is a 2-2-1 record before they fly out to face Philadelphia on Thursday. On paper, this figures to be the easiest game as they face off against Calgary, the league’s 3rd worst team. Unfortunately the Predators aren’t in a position to look past anyone as the Flames are fresh off shutting out the Hurricanes on Monday, a team Nashville has failed to defeat in two prior meetings. According to the Flames’ website, they will go back-to-back nights with Karri Ramo in net, who earned his first career shutout in the win over Carolina.
In a shocker, Barry Trotz will turn to the goaltender he threw under the bus back on the 5th, in Carter Hutton. One has to believe that if Hutton doesn’t take advantage of his latest opportunity to be between the pipes, against a team like Calgary in a back-to-back situation, that Hutton will likely be the one sent down to Milwaukee upon Rinne’s return.
Maybe the homestand doesn’t look so bad had they not laid an egg against a divisional foe and boo-bird magnet Ryan Suter. After all, they beat a top-notch Sharks team and competed til the end against the best team in the league with Anaheim, so I think you take 2 points there. But one point over the weekend is a crusher to what could’ve been an opportunity to climb back into relevance, particularly the Minnesota game.
When it’s all said and done, there are no moral victories, particularly in the Western Conference when every point is so crucial. The question now becomes, does Barry Trotz have any magic left to save this season before the Olympic break? These next 12 games may very well determine the future of the franchise.