The Nashville Predators lost to the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 in front of a sparse gathering in Glendale Thursday night. The Predators, who have only scored 21 goals in their last 12 games, played solid defense, received adequate goaltending from Dan Ellis, and stayed out of the penalty box but still could not overcome Rookie Kyle Turris’s two goal evening.
In spite of out-shooting the Coyotes 31-27 the Predators still couldn’t find the back of the net. The Predators played their style of game in what has been their style over the last few years - good speed, tough defense, fighting for the corners and quality goaltending but on this night as on too many others it did not produce a win.
Earlier in the year when the Predators were producing goals at a lot higher clip, defensive bread-downs due to defensemen being out of position and not staying home to take care of business, losses were coming in higher scoring, sloppy contests. Now the Preds are getting beat not because of poor play but because of a complete lack of offensive production.
I was amazed before the game at how similar the season stats for the Preds and Coyotes actually were. In every category there was only a very small difference between the two squads. Nothing changed from that during the game other than the Preds going from one point up in the standings to one point down. It was a very tight contest of very similar teams from start to finish.
As we enter the “no movement period” during the holidays, GM David Poile needs to take a hard look at the same issue that has existed since prior to the departure of Alexander Radulov during the summer. The Predators are still one or two quality point producers short of being able to go beyond a finish in the six to ten range in the conference. The early season experiment with youngsters did not work. The team is blessed with many prospects and loaded with draft picks for next summer. We simply cannot play that many youngsters all at the same time and we are in desperate need of more offence. That is the perfect recipe to get on the phone and cut the best deal you can. We simply can’t wait until the trade deadline to make a move. We need help now!
Empty House in the Desert… The main thing I noticed about Phoenix was the complete lack of a crowd. From the TV angles showing most of the arena it was one of the smallest crowds I’ve ever seen at an NHL game. For as much as is said about Nashville’s attendance problems, we have never had that sparse of a crowd. After the game when I read that there were over 14,000 there I was amazed. The Preds need to figure out how to count all their empty seats. We would have a sellout every night.
Preds Attendance Woes.. Speaking of attendance, the Predators announced their paid attendance figures through 12 games and they are woefully short of the 14,000 paid required for revenue sharing from the league. The average paid stood at 12,810 compared to 12, 738 for the first 12 games last year when they averaged 13,429 by season’s end. With the economy in a tailspin nationwide, I would not be surprised if the league stepped in and lowered the requirement to last year’s 13,250 figure in order to provide somewhat of a “bailout” for teams that fall short of this year’s higher figure.
Sully Update… Steve Sullivan is now practicing with the team on a somewhat limited basis and as the only Predator in the team’s history to average over a point a game for the Preds, would be a welcome addition to the team. I still feel that this is the longest of shots and that it would be a mistake for anyone to put all their eggs in his basket as a solution to the team’s recent scoring drought.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass