For the third time in four games, the Nashville Predators couldn't get anything done at even strength, and this time they managed to squander a five-on-three chance as well. The Predators just aren't good enough to beat this team. I said before the series that even squinting really hard, it was difficult to see how they could win, and look at what's happened! The Sedins have combined for one (empty net) goal through the first four games and Pekka Rinne has a wonderful .942 save percentage, but still the Predators trail three games to one. Now down three-to-one, I'd put the odds of a comeback at about twenty-five to one, which is (in my opinion) a worse spot than the Blackhawks were in when they were down three zip. Scoring chances and more after the jump.
For those who'd like a definition: a scoring chance is defined as a clear play directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area - loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots, though sometimes slightly more generous than that depending on the amount of immediately-preceding puck movement or screens in front of the net. Blocked shots are generally not included but missed shots are. A player is awarded a scoring chance anytime he is on the ice and someone from either team has a chance to score. He is awarded a "chance for" if someone on his team has a chance to score and a "chance against" if the opposing team has a chance to score. Finally, a big thanks to Vic Ferrari for making the whole damn thing possible with his awesome scripts.
|Period||Nsh / Van||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
I didn't count three goals as chances here, but if you put them all in, it just makes Nashville look worse. Pretty obvious who got beat up in this one, and which line was doing the beating. Daniel and Henrik combined for four points, but they were again outclassed by Ryan Kesler and company. Tom Benjamin mentioned this a week or so ago, but how crazy is it that the three Selke finalists (Kesler, Pavel Datsyuk, and Jonathan Toews) are probably better as a group than the three Hart finalists (Daniel Sedin, Corey Perry, and Martin St. Louis). The voting system, it seems, is broken.
The Seed that Fell on Good Soil
3. Alexandre Burrows - Burrows was again very good in this one, but the guy still drives me crazy. At the end of the first period he starts shoving a guy in the chest and then has the nerve to gawk at the ref like the other guy deserves a penalty. It's unbelievable to me that the guy doesn't get more unsportsmanlike penalties. But hatefulness aside, Burrows was a physical force beside the Sedins, and did a great job killing penalties. A 5 and 0 scoring chances sheet is also awfully hard to ignore.
2. Cody Franson - After ragging on the guy a bit in Game Two, I thought it would be nice to point out that he had a very good game in Game Four. In addition to the goal, Franson made a lot of really good passes (maybe he doeshave hands like Thornton), and was sound defensively as well. Now if only the Predators could get solid defense from all six guys at once!
1. Ryan Kesler - Much like last game, Ryan Kesler was the star of this one. He certainly got away with a couple of sure penalties, but he also took some abuse that went uncalled and just kept on dominating the game. He had a highlight reel goal to win the game on the power play that made Shea Weber look like Shane O`Brien, he helped to kill a five-on-three, and he was among the team's Corsi leaders at even strength. I'd say that's a pretty good night.
The Seed that Fell among Thorns
3. Sami Salo - It looked to me like he came back too soon. There were no egregious errors that I recall, but he definitely looked a step slow all night long, and it doesn't make any sense to play Salo when you've got a healthy Keith Ballard sitting in the press-box. Of course, Vigneault would probably just play Andrew Alberts and Aaron Rome anyway. Weird stuff.
2. Mike Fisher - He wasn't matching anybody, but he got beat up by everybody: +0 -3 against Henrik Sedin, +1 -3 against Ryan Kesler, and +0 -2 against Maxim Lapierre. He played most of the game with
1. Martin Erat - who was equally awful. The Predators were counting on these two to provide some offense in this series, and they haven't been able to deliver consistently. Neither player has a goal in the series (although Erat has three assists), and on this night they were a big part of the bungled 5-on-3, and gave back a tonne of chances the other way. I should probably have at least one of Kevin Klein or Jonathan Blum on this list, but these forwards sure aren't giving them much to work with.